A Plain Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles
of the Church of England
by William Baker; Rivingtons, 1883
The following pages are intended to supply a short and simple exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles for the use of the upper forms of a public school. In days of unlimited freedom of thought, the voice of the Church of England with regard to all that “a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul’s health” has the strongest and earliest claim on the attention of her children. This voice, whether in her Book of Common Prayer, her Church Catechism, or her Articles of Religion, is clear, definite, and consistent. Should this manual contribute in any small degree to the better understanding of her teaching, its purpose will have been abundantly fulfilled. May God forgive its imperfections, and accept it to His honour and service.
Merchant Taylors’ School, February, 1883.
The Church of England is a living and true branch of the Holy Catholic Church of Christ, which began upon earth when the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost. How the gospel was first carried into Great Britain is a matter of complete uncertainty. Our earliest native historian states that the Sun of Righteousness had dawned in this country before A.D. 61; and Tertullian at the end of the second century speaks of parts of Britain inaccessible to the Roman arms, yet subject to Christ. Of the martyrdom of St. Alban and other Christian sufferers in Britain in the beginning of the fourth century we have trustworthy evidence, and the fact of the Diocletian persecution extending to Britain is a proof of the existence of something like a thoroughly established Church, worthy of being put down by violent measures.
The first fact, however, of real historical importance for us is the presence in the early part of the fourth century of British Bishops at important councils of the Church. The names of three British Bishops have come down to us who were present at the Council of Aries in A.D. 314. British Bishops were probably present at Nicaea, A.D. 325, and certainly at the Councils of Sardica in A.D. 347, and of Rimini in A.D. 359. The Saxon conquest of Britain, which followed the withdrawal of the Roman legions, almost extirpated Christianity for a time, except in the western part of the island which remained unconquered. Here, after the middle of the fifth century, the British Church continued for a time practically cut off from the Churches of Southern Europe, but keeping up a close communion with the Churches in Scotland and Ireland, which had been rounded mainly through the labours of Ninian and Patrick, each of these missionaries deriving his orders from the great Gallican Bishop, St. Martin of Tours. The famous monastery of Iona, founded by St. Columba, who crossed over from Ireland, in A.D. 568, formed a strong connecting link between the Churches of Ireland and Scotland, and subsequently an important centre of missionary enterprise. The orthodoxy of this ancient British Church is pretty clearly established. It had also a distinct Liturgy of its own, bearing a close relation to the Gallican.
It was a Church thus full of life and vigour that confronted Augustine and the Roman missionaries after their first success in preaching to Ethelbert and his people in A.D. 597. The coming of the Italians aroused the ancient British Church to a sense of its obligations towards its Saxon conquerors, whom hitherto it had neglected to evangelize. The British and Roman missionaries soon came into collision. Questions of minor importance were magnified into matters of vital consequence when they came to be regarded as involving the question of submission to the Roman See.
For a ·time the ancient British Church and the Church founded by Augustine and his fellow missionaries went on independently of one another, happily vying with one another in the conversion of England. The former was, however, by far the most successful. In the end the Roman customs prevailed, the Council of Whitby, in A.D. 664, giving the first decisive victory to the Roman party. By degrees the Old British Church submitted or was absorbed, and people began to look upon Rome as their spiritual mother. The English Church was the sole Church in the land, with the Archbishop of Canterbury as its recognized Metropolitan. Still, whatever claims the Church of Rome may have put forward, no grant of the English Church had made over the liberties of the Church to the Roman See, or acknowledged the jurisdiction of the Pope in England. The Church of England was in right at least an independent Church, with its Bishops duly descended in a double line from the Apostles of our Lord, with regular synods of its own, an organized parochial system, and a settled provision for the maintenance of public worship.
The Norman Conquest marks a fresh era in the history of the Church of England Whereas, during the whole of the Anglo-Saxon period, the Church had maintained its independence of any foreign jurisdiction, the whole period between the Conquest and the Reformation was one of continual struggle against Papal encroachments. These encroachments were the direct result of the policy inaugurated by Pope Gregory VII, which aimed at establishing a great spiritual autocracy by which the See of Rome should become a centre of unity and general fountainhead of justice to all the Western nations. As a first step towards the realization of such an idea, it was desirable that the sovereigns of Europe should be prevailed upon, if possible, to make themselves parties to this by doing homage to the Pope. William I was strong enough successfully to resist this demand. But from the days of his successor, for the next four hundred years the Roman See got the best of the struggle. No opportunity was lost of encroaching upon the rights of the king or the Church. The king was regarded, according to the Gregorian theory, as a spiritual son of the Pope, and the Pope as the king’s superior in things spiritual and temporal alike; and on this theory the policy of the Papacy was based and carried out, with varying degrees of success, till the reign of Henry VIII. The kings themselves, insecurely seated on their thrones, adopted a temporizing policy, now calling in the aid of the Pope to assist them in trampling on the liberties of their subjects and of the Church, now enlisting the sympathies and support of the Church and nation in resisting the growing extravagance of the Papal encroachments. The power of the Pope in England increased rapidly till it reached its climax in the pontificate of Innocent III, to whom the weak and wicked King John consented to do homage for his kingdom. The thirteenth century, from Innocent III to Boniface VIII, may be considered its meridian, after which it began slowly to decline; till the nation and the Church, acting harmoniously together, were strong enough to throw off altogether the yoke to which they had so long submitted, yet not without a constant undercurrent of discontent which found expression from time to time in the form of some official protest or popular remonstrance.
During the period of subjection many grievous corruptions both in matters of doctrine and discipline had been imported into the Church of England, the principal of which were connected with the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist and the present condition of the departed, with regard to which new theories had sprung up, which, though finding no countenance in Scripture, or the teaching of the Primitive Church, had been developed into necessary articles of faith. It was not, however, on questions of doctrine that the quarrel turned which led to the breach between England and Rome in the sixteenth century, but on quite other matters. The incubus of the Roman yoke had to be shaken off before the work of internal self-reformation could be begun.
The recovered liberty of the Church of England may be said to date from the year A.D. 1531 when in her regular Convocations of Canterbury and York she finally repudiated the Papal yoke. The action begun by the Church was afterwards endorsed by Parliament, by the Universities, by the Cathedral bodies, and even by the great monastic institutions.
But whilst thus rejecting the Roman Supremacy, nothing was further from the intention of the Church of England than to found any new ecclesiastical system, or to vary in any way from the faith or discipline of the Universal Church as exhibited in the early centuries of Christianity. Indeed, so cautious was she lest she should in any way lay herself open to the charge of separating herself from the Church of the past, that for some time, in spite of the corruptions and abuses that had been foisted upon her, no change was made either in the professed doctrine or in the services of the English Church. The tares were allowed to remain in the Church’s field lest haply the wheat should be rooted up with them. All went on for a time as before. The Churches were the same, the prayers were the same, the bishops and priests were the same men, only there was no further communion with or reference to Rome. Henry VIII himself was in matters of doctrine a firm upholder of the Mediaeval opinions, and for his book against Luther had received from the Pope the title of “Defender or the Faith”. During his reign, although the Latin Service Books were revised, and the Litany drawn up in English for public use, the doctrinal reformation made but little outward progress. A great stimulus was, however, given to the movement by the translation and distribution of the Holy Scriptures during this reign, for which the revival of learning had created a demand amongst the intelligent laity.
Of course it was impossible that so great a change as the Church of England had undergone in its attitude towards the Roman See, to whose decrees men’s minds had been accustomed to turn, should be unattended with danger to the true faith, which lay beneath the errors and superstitions which had overgrown it; whilst the wild speculations and unauthorized practices which had followed from the revolt against the old Mediaeval system in the Churches of the Continent, tended still more to unsettle men’s minds on primary points of Christian doctrine. It was therefore imperative upon the Church to define her dogmatical position, as other Reformed bodies had done, and as in fact the Church of Rome herself afterwards did at the Council of Trent.
The first step in this direction was the publication in A.D. 1536 of Ten Articles of Religion, set forth by Convocation and issued by the king’s authority, as a general authoritative statement of the doctrinal position of the Church of England. In the first of these Articles the Bible and the three Creeds are laid down as a basis of doctrine, and the authority of the first four general councils upheld against all contradictory opinions.
In A.D. 1538, after a conference between some German reformers and English divines, a fresh statement was put forth, consisting of Thirteen Articles, founded partly on the Ten Articles of 1536, and partly on the “Confession of Augsburg.” This statement, however, had never any legal force, and seems to have been intended as the basis of a Concordat between the English and Lutheran Churches.
The following year, A.D. 1539, is notorious for the reactionary Act of the Six Articles, passed by Parliament under the king’s influence. These maintained (1) Transubstantiation; (2) Communion in one kind; (3) The celibacy of the clergy; (4) Vows of chastity to be kept; (5) Private masses; (6) The necessity of auricular confession.
The Act was afterwards somewhat modified, and finally repealed in the first year of Edward VI (1547). Its immediate effect, however, was to put a stop to the progress of the Reformation during the remainder of the reign of Henry VIII.
With the death of Henry a complete ascendancy was gained by the reforming party, the first outcome of which was the publication of the first complete Prayer book in the English language in A.D. 1549. This was no new book, being mainly a revision of the ancient services of the Church, from which Mediaeval accretions were cleared away. This Prayer book, though generally accepted by the great body of English Churchmen, did not satisfy the ultra-reformers, and subsequently a revised edition of the Prayer book was put forth in A.D. 1552, to which it was deemed expedient to add a more complete and definite body of Articles. Accordingly Cranmer, assisted by Ridley and others, proceeded to draw up a new body of Articles of Religion, known as the Forty-two Articles, which were “agreed upon by Bishops and other learned men in synod of London, 1552, for avoiding of controversy, and establishment of godly concord on certain matters of religion.” They were published by the kings authority a month before his death in A.D. 1553. These Articles maintained the same principles for the determination of the true faith as had been all along recognized by the earlier Articles (Holy Scripture and the three Creeds being accepted as the basis of faith), and the necessity for retaining the essential features of Church organization as handed down from the beginning. They also pronounced the judgment of the compilers on certain burning questions of the day, as Justification, Predestination, and Election, on which they take an independent and moderate line, opposed to the extravagant opinions of Continental reformers.
The reign of Mary of course put a complete stop for the time to the Reformation movement, but in the fourth year of Elizabeth, A.D. 1562, the Forty-two Articles were remodeled by Archbishop Parker and Convocation. Seven of the old Articles were omitted, viz.: – X, Of grace; XVI, Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; XIX, All men are bound to keep the moral commandments of the law; XXIX, The resurrection of the dead is not yet brought to pass; XL, The souls of them that depart do neither lie with their bodies nor sleep idly; XLI, Heretics called millenarii; XLII, All men shall not be saved at the length. Three new Articles were added: V, Of the Holy Ghost; XII, Of good works; and XXX, Of both kinds. Other Articles were enlarged and made more complete. The Articles thus became Thirty-eight.
In A.D. 1571, Parker and Convocation added, or rather restored, Art. XXIX, “Of the wicked which eat not the body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper,” which Article had been expunged by Elizabeth.
The Articles now Thirty-nine in number were subscribed by the Clergy in Convocation, and authorized by Act of Parliament. In the following year they were published in Latin and English under the superintendence of Bishop Jewel, and the “Ratification” was added.
The authorized heading says that they were “agreed upon by the Archbishops and Bishops of both Provinces and the whole Clergy in the year 1562, for the avoiding of the diversities of opinions and for the establishing of consent touching true religion.” Owing to the circumstances of the times at which they were composed, they are to a large extent negative in their character. Some of them treat of subjects that have long since ceased to have the same theological importance that they had at the time of the Reformation. The Thirty-nine Articles do not profess to give an exhaustive exposition of the theological system of the Church of England. They were drawn up primarily as a safeguard against such errors and extravagances as most commonly prevailed at the time of their compilation. On some important matters they are altogether silent, on others they speak with studied caution. Yet with respect to the matters with which they deal they “do contain the true doctrine of the Church of England agreeable to God’s Word,” and therefore furnish an authoritative standard of the faith of the Anglican Church. The first five Articles treat of the fundamental Articles of the Christian Faith, as held by the Church Catholic in all ages. The following three Articles (VI–IX) establish the rule of Faith. Articles IX–XVIII treat of the duties of Christians as individuals; Articles XIX–XXXIX of the obligations of Christians as members of a religious society, that is, of the Church. The Articles were signed and confirmed both in Latin and English, so that they are of equal authority in both languages, and either version may be explained and interpreted by the other.
Of Faith in the Holy Trinity
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
De fide in sacro-sanctam Trinitatem
Unus est vivus et verus Deus, aeternus, incorporeus, impartibilis, impassibilis, immensae potentiae, sapientiae ac bonitatis, creator et conservator omnium, tum visibilium, tum invisibilium. Et in unitate hujus divinae naturae tres sunt personae, ejus dem essentiae, potentiae, ac aeternitatis, Pater, Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.
The idea of a living and true God is the earliest, the most universal, and the most ineradicable conception of the human mind. “All men need the Gods,” says Homer, and Cicero says, “There is no people so wild and savage as not to have believed in a God, even if they have been unacquainted with his nature” (Cic. Leg. I. 8). It is simply a fact of history that wherever human beings have been found, none have been found without some notion of a higher power, and some form of religion. It is impossible to conceive that this universal belief in God is the result of accident. It is a great spiritual fact running through the entire history of the human race in all ages. The idea of God is thus shown to be an intrinsic and necessary element of our mental life. We are as certain of God’s existence as we are of our own. We cannot help thinking of God, and we cannot think of Him otherwise than as a “living and true God.” This is the argument derived from man’s spiritual consciousness. Our spiritual nature demands God.
We are, moreover, conscious of the existence within us of a moral sense or conscience, an inward monitor which judges our actions whether we wish or not, applauding or condemning. Men in all ages have borne witness to a sense of right and wrong, which is not the product of the reason or the will, but instinctive and universal. The possession of a conscience is a fact which we cannot get rid of. It makes its voice heard even while we attempt to stifle it. This is the argument derived from man’s moral consciousness. Our moral nature demands God.
It may further be argued that human thought and consciousness is in itself a reason for inferring the existence of a Supreme Consciousness higher than and anterior to itself. The existence of the human mind is an argument for the pre-existence of an Eternal Self-existent Mind. This is the argument from man’s mental consciousness. Our mental nature demands God.
Thus starting from the facts of human nature we arrive at the conclusion that there is a living and true God, everlasting. The natural world also points to the same belief.
(a) By its very existence. What exists must have a cause, but all the causes that we see in action are secondary causes. There must therefore be some First Cause beyond and above all finite things and forces. To make the world its own Creator is only to confess our inability to account for its origin, and at the best but an arbitrary and irrational assumption. Life can only be produced by that which itself lives; motion requires a motive power: and thus we are led back to a Supreme Being who is from Himself alone, who moves and is not moved Thus the existence of the world demands the existence of God.
(b) By the design, order, and universal laws manifest throughout creation, pointing to an Intelligent Creator and Controller. This argument is employed by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (1:19, 20), and he declares those to be without excuse who fail to recognize the Invisible God in His visible works. He says, “That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” And Cicero, contending against the possibility of the world being the work of chance, argues that “anyone who believes this beautiful world arose from an accidental combination of atoms, might as well believe that an accidental combination of the letters of the alphabet produced the verses of Ennius, or that a fortuitous combination of solid bodies could produce artistic buildings” (Cic. De Nat. Deor. ii. 37). Thus the order of nature demands the existence of God.
The unity of God is inferred from the unity of design in creation, and the order of causes leading us up to some highest and first Cause. We cannot conceive several coordinate first causes. This is also a truth of Divine revelation: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut. 6:4). Compare also with the language of this Article Jer. 10:10, “The Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting King”; and 1 Thess. 1:9, “Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”
Having asserted the eternal existence and unity of God, the Article goes on to speak of His attributes. These are matters of revelation, and can be but inadequately conceived by human intelligence or expressed in human language. God is said to be “without body, parts, or passions;” the Latin for which expressions is “incorporeus, impartibilis, impassibilis” that is, immaterial (i.e. a Spirit), indivisible, and impassible (i.e. not subject to varying emotions). “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24), and “a spirit hath not flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39). If incorporeal or immateria1, He must be necessarily “without parts,” i.e. indivisible. Thus it was not a mere portion, but the fullness of the Godhead that dwelt in Christ. That God is without passions – that is, violent and disturbing emotions, causing pain, and affecting the justice of His actions and His orderly conduct of the universe – is asserted in Numb. 23:19, “God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent:” also Mal. 3:6, “I am the Lord, I change not;” James 1:17, “The Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” When, then, we meet such expressions as “It repented the Lord that he had made man,” “The Lord smelt a sweet savour,” etc., we must regard the language of Holy Scripture as not to be taken in a literal manner, but as accommodating itself to the imperfection of man’s limited understanding.
Again, God is Omnipotent; that is, He can do all things which do not imply imperfection. “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). God cannot, however, sin or lie, because He would thereby contradict His own nature.
He is also All-wise. Cf. Rom. 11:33, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” He foreknows everything and foresees the issues of events. Hence He suffers many things to exist which to us are dark and mysterious, for purposes beyond our knowledge or comprehension.
He is, moreover, of Infinite goodness. This is manifest in the provision He makes for the wants of all His creatures. “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord” (Psal 33:5). “Every good gift and every perfect gift” is from Him (James 1:17); but His goodness has been most signally displayed in the Love which caused Him to send down His Son for the redemption of the world (John 3:16).
He is the Maker and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. Gene 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; Col 1:16–17, “By him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” The special providence of God is declared or implied in many passages of the Old and New Testament; especially by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 6:25–34).
The last clause of the Article treats of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
The word “Trinity” is not to be found in Holy Scripture, but the doctrine involved in it is clearly implied in the New Testament, and more obscurely foreshadowed in the Old. A plurality of Persons in the Godhead is perhaps indicated in the expressions, Gen. 1:26, “Let us make man in our image,” compared with verse 27, “God created man in his own image.” We read too that at the creation of the world “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” In Isa. 6:3 the angels cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.”
The mystery of the Holy Trinity was, however, expressly revealed by Christ to His Apostles, and through them to the Church. Their commission was to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). In the New Testament distinct personal acts are ascribed to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and all of the Divine Persons have attributes applied to them which belong only to God. Thus the Son is declared to be God (John 1:1) and to be endued with “all the fullness of the Godhead” (Col. 2:9). When Ananias had lied to the Holy Ghost, St. Peter reproved him for lying. “not unto men, but unto God (Acts 5:4). The Father speaks by the prophets (Heb. 1:1), the Son speaks by the prophets (2 Cor. 13:3), and the Holy Ghost speaks by the prophets (2 Pet. 1:21). The Father quickens, the Son quickens, and the Holy Ghost quickens (John 5:21, 6:63). The three Persons of the Trinity are associated together at the Baptism of our Lord (Matt. 3:16–17), the Son being baptized, the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a Dove, and the voice of the Father being heard from heaven. Also in the Apostolic Benediction, 2 Cor. 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” Also in Rev. 1:4 where the mention of “the seven Spirits before the throne” refers to the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Ghost.
The mystery of the Holy Trinity is no doubt revealed to us that we may worship God more fitly here upon earth, and as the angels of heaven worship Him and to prepare us for the fuller revelation which shall be given to us hereafter. “Now we know in part ... but when that which is perfect shall come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Cor. 13:12).
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took Man’s nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.
De Verbo, sive Filio Dei, qui verus homo factus est.
Filius, qui est verbum Patris, ab aeterno a Patre genitus, verus et aeternus Deus, ac Patri consubstantialis, in utero beatae virginis, ex illius substantia naturam humanam assumpsit: ita ut duae naturae, divina et humana, integre atque perfecte in unitate personae fuerint inseparabiliter conjunctae, ex quibus est unus Christus, verus Deus et verus homo, qui vere passus est, crucifixus, mortuus et sepultus, ut Patrem nobis reconciliaret, essetque hostia, non tantum pro culpa originis, verum etiam pro omnibus actualibus hominum peccatis.
This Article treats of the three fundamental doctrines of the Christian Faith – 1) The Divinity of Christ; 2) The Incarnation; 3) The Atonement.
1. The Divinity of Christ is declared by means of two expressions. He is (a) the Son of God the Father; (b) the Word of the Father.
(a) In speaking of “God the Son,” we are only making use of a term by means of which the Holy Spirit has chosen to reveal to us approximately and in a manner suited to our limited comprehension the close and intimate relationship existing between the First and Second Persons of the Godhead. The Jews, when our Lord spoke of Himself as the Son of God, and of God as His Father, clearly understood Him to be claiming Divinity, and therefore accused Him of blasphemy and took up stones to stone Him. (See John 8:38, 39; 10:30–38, etc.)
(b) The expression. “The ‘Word’ of the Father,” is from the beginning of St. John’s Gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” As applied to Christ, it represents Him – (1) As Eternal Thought, Wisdom, or Reason, existing from eternity in the Godhead as a distinct Person; (2) As the means of revelation of the Godhead to man. The term Word (Logos) was probably borrowed from the writings of Philo, an Alexandrine Jew (A.D. 45), who identified it with the Divine Wisdom (Σοφία), but connected it with no Messianic ideas, nor did he give it a distinct personality.
The Divinity of Christ has been proved from Scripture under the last Article, and many other Scriptural proofs might be adduced. Our Lord Himself confessed before Pilate that He was “the Christ, the Son of God” (Matt. 26:64). Besides which there are many passages which ascribe to Him names, acts, and attributes that belong only to God, and St. Paul declares that we shall all stand before His judgment seat (Rom. 14:10).
The expression “of one substance with the Father” is opposed to the error of Arius, who called our Lord not Homo-ousios (of one substance), but Homoi-ousios (of like substance). This was to deny His Divinity. This heresy was condemned at the First General Council of the Church, held at Nicaea, A.D. 325.
2. The doctrine of the Incarnation of our Blessed Lord is the foundation of all Christianity. Its denial is the characteristic of antichrist. “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist” (1 John 4:3).
The mystery of “God manifest in the flesh” was not only foretold, but in some degree foreshadowed from the earliest days of mankind’s history. God held communication with our first parents in Eden, when “they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8). The Lord appeared to Abraham on Mamre, “And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him” (Gen. 18:2). As Joshua was by Jericho “there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand,” who describes himself as “The Captain of the Lord’s Host.” And the prophet Ezekiel speaks of seeing in a vision “the likeness of a throne, and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above it (1:26). And Daniel speaks of one “like the similitude of the sons of men” touching his lips (10:16, etc.). We may believe that in these passages there is a prospective reference to, and a prefiguring of, the Incarnation of the Divine Word. Isaiah prophesied that a Virgin should “conceive, and bear a Son, and call his name Immanuel.” This prophecy is declared by St. Matthew (1:23) to have been fulfilled in the birth of Christ of the Virgin Mary. Again, St. Paul writes (Gal. 4:4), “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman.”
The true humanity of Christ is proved by His birth, His growth in wisdom and stature, His sufferings, and His death. The Article says that “He truly suffered,” whereas the Docetae, an early body of heretics, asserted that He had not a real bodily shape, but only a phantom appearance. Apollinarius denied that He had a real human soul, asserting that His Divinity took the place of His soul. The Article declares that “in Him were two whole and perfect natures.” The Athanasian Creed in like manner declares Him to be “perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.” The union of the two natures in one person may be compared to the union of soul and body to form the personality of a man.
Nestorius seems to have made a distinction of persons in the Son of God and Son of Mary, denying to the Mother of our Lord the title Theotokos or “Mother of God”. He was condemned by the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431.
Eutyches, on the other hand, maintained that Christ had not only one person but one nature, the human being absorbed into the Divine. This error was condemned by the Council of Chalcedon, A.D. 451.
The Athanasian Creed sums up the teaching of the Church as follows: “Who although He be God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God; one altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.”
3. Finally, this Article treats of the Atonement of Christ. The purpose for which the Word became incarnate was (a) to reconcile His Father to us; (b) to be a sacrifice – (1) for original guilt; (2) for actual sins of men.
(a) The death of Christ removed the barrier which sin had raised between man and God. Man by disobedience had cut himself off from God’s covenant of “life. Christ by His perfect obedience restored to man access to life and salvation. And so Christ’s death is called an Atonement because it set at one again those who were separated. So St. Paul asserts “we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom. 5:10), and again, “There is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5); and St Peter says, “Christ once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18); and St. John declares, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1, 2).
(b) Christ’s death was a sacrifice, or rather, it was the sacrifice for sin. He is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Sin requires a sacrifice. This belief is in fact as much a natural instinct as is the belief in God. The heathen world sought to make a vicarious atonement for sin by human sacrifices, thus exemplifying the deep sense of guilt and the painful craving for reconciliation with an offended God which is natural to man.
This reconciliation it was God’s eternal purpose to effect through the sacrifice of Christ, who is accordingly called “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8); and after the fall a promise was made that from the seed of the woman should arise a Deliverer, by the bruising of whose heel the serpent’s head should be bruised (Gen. 3:15). At the same time animal sacrifices were instituted. The sacrifice of Abel was accepted because it was an offering made with blood, thereby foreshadowing in a type the death of Christ. In the same way all sacrifices offered by the shedding of blood, whether by the patriarchs or under the Jewish law, and especially the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb, were prophetic of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. There “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7).
By this sacrifice Christ obtained the right to save mankind: (1) From original guilt, i.e. the stain of inherited sinfulness natural to the descendants of Adam. This state of salvation is effected by the “washing of regeneration” (Tit. 3:5). “Know ye not” (says St. Paul) “that as many of you as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3). (2) From all actual sins of men, i.e. from the result of those acts of personal disobedience which are committed after baptism and against grace. This continual efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice is declared by St John when he says (1 John 1:7), “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” This cleansing power is especially applied to our souls through the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist as it was applied before Christ’s death through the sacrifices of the old covenant. This explains our Lord’s language at the time of the institution of this Sacrament when He declared of the cup of blessing, “This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28).
The Atonement is denied by the Socinians who assert that Christ was no more than a mere man. The Socinians derive their name from Loelius Socinus and Faustus Socinus, uncle and nephew, who were natives of Northern Italy where they founded a society of about forty members in 1546. They afterwards settled in Poland and propagated their doctrines there.
Of the going down of Christ into Hell.
As Christ died for us, and was buried, so also is it to be believed that He went down into Hell.
De descensu Christi ad inferos.
Quemadmodum Christus pro nobis mortuus est, et sepultus; ita est etiam credendus ad inferos descendisse.
This Article was much fuller in the reign of Edward VI, having this addition – “That the body of Christ lay in the grave until His resurrection; but His Spirit, which He gave up, was with the spirits which were detained in prison or in Hell, and preached to them as the place in St. Peter testifieth.” In 1652 these words were omitted, probably to meet the views of the Calvinistic Puritans who took a different view of the text in St. Peter, making it refer to our Lord’s sufferings on earth.
The text alluded to is 1 Pet. 3:18, which is best translated according to the Revised Version of 1881: “Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit; in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison which aforetime were disobedient.” That is, according to the interpretation of the best modern commentators, at the death of Christ upon the cross His human soul or spirit was separated from the body and went to that locality where the souls of the departed remain in God’s keeping, awaiting their future reunion with the body at the general resurrection; to these he preached or proclaimed the glad tidings of salvation, extended even to those who were disobedient before the Flood; who, though their repentance came too late to save them from temporal punishment, were allowed by God’s mercy to escape the eternal doom of the wicked. These are especially mentioned as a signal instance of the far-reaching efficacy of Christ’s atonement.
This view of the passage is strengthened by St. Peter’s reference to our Lord’s descent into Hell, or Hades, in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, which he speaks of as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Psal. 16:8–10 (Acts 2:25–27). This Hell, or Hades, is the same as the “Paradise” in which our Lord promised that the penitent thief should be with Him on the day of His death (Luke 23:43).
We may believe that the main purpose of Christ’s descent into Hell was that he might fully undergo the condition of a dead man as well as of a living man, and thus satisfy the law for man in every respect. Of course the soul of Christ in Paradise and the body of Christ in the grave, though separated from each other, were neither of them separated from the Divine Person of God the Son.
Christ did truly arise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man’s nature, wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all men at the last day.
De resurrectione Christi.
Christus vere a mortuis resurrexit, suumque corpus cum carne, ossibus, omnibusque ad integritatem humanae naturae pertinentibus, recepit: cum quibus in coelum ascendit, ibique residet, quoad extremo die ad judicandos homines reversurus sit.
The subjects treated of in this Article are three in number: – (1) The Reality of Christ’s Resurrection, (2) His Ascension, (3) His future return to Judgment.
1. The Resurrection of Christ is appealed to by the Apostles as the crucial test of the truth of the entire Gospel. “If Christ be not risen,” says St. Paul, “then is our preaching vain, your faith is also vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). If Christ be risen, then God has given to us the full assurance of the truth of all that He asserted about Himself, and of the full acceptance of His atoning sacrifice. If Christ be not risen, then He was nothing more than a man after all and has no power to make atonement for us. We are yet in our sins (1 Cor. 15:17). Thus the truth of Christianity stands or falls with the historical truth of Christ’s resurrection.
Now, the resurrection of Christ rests on as clear historical evidence as any past event in the world’s history. We have –
(a) The testimony of the original Apostles of Jesus Christ, i.e. the testimony of men who had known Him personally in the flesh, who had lived with Him and been His. close companions throughout His ministry. They were, therefore, witnesses not likely to be deceived in the matter; and their testimony has not only come down to us in the Gospels, but in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. Thus St. Peter’s testimony is of the most explicit character, as given both in the Acts and in his first Epistle. Matthias was appointed in the place of Judas to be, in St. Peter’s words, “a witness with us of his resurrection” (Acts 1:22). So in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, he says, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:32). Preaching to the people after the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful gate of the Temple, he says, “Ye killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:15); and afterwards to the rulers of the Jews, “Jesus of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 4:10); and before the Sanhedrim, after the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. ... And we are his witnesses of these things” (Acts 5:30–32). Again, preaching to Cornelius and his company, he says, “We are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:39–41); and in 1 Pet. 1:3 he writes, “God ... hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” And St. John, in Rev. 1:5, speaks of Jesus Christ as the “first begotten of the dead.” And besides the direct witness of the Apostles, we have the witness of their lives and actions after the Resurrection, enduring, as they did, for this testimony persecution and death. Their whole conduct subsequently to the Resurrection is only explicable on the supposition that they were thoroughly convinced that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead, and that they themselves had seen and spoken with Him after His resurrection.
(b) The testimony of St. Paul. This Apostle, as we have seen, staked the entire truth of the gospel which he preached upon the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To himself, at any rate, the resurrection of Christ was a fact of the most complete certainty. We have in the Acts of the Apostles three distinct accounts of the appearance of the risen Saviour to St. Paul on the road to Damascus, two of which are from the lips of the Apostle himself (Acts 9:1–30, 22:1–21, 26:2–23). Besides which, in two places in the First Epistle to the Corinthians he distinctly asserts that he had himself seen the risen Lord. Cf. 1 Cor. 9:1, “Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” and 1 Cor. 15:8, “Last of all he appeared to me also, as to one born out of due time.”
Moreover, St Paul appeals in confirmation of his own testimony to the testimony of others who had seen the Lord after His resurrection. “He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.” And it is to be observed that this testimony was published to the world at the very spot where and immediately after the time when the event was said to have happened, at a moment when it would be possible to examine the witnesses and expose the least trace of fraud. Yet the event was not disproved, though the enemies of Christianity would have been only too ready to expose the misstatements of the Apostles, had they been able to do so.
(c) The testimony of the Christian Church. The belief in the Resurrection was the foundation on which the Christian Church was erected. This is abundantly clear from a number of passages in addition to those already quoted. “God raising up Jesus from the dead” is the keynote of St. Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:22–32). The rulers of the Jews were grieved that St. Peter and St. John “taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:1–2); “With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33); and passages might easily be multiplied both from the Acts and the Epistles to the same effect.
Here, then, we have an adequate account of the origin of the Christian Church and of its progress in the world, of which no other rational account can be given. The spread of the Church in the early ages of Christianity, founded, amidst the fiercest opposition of the powers of the world, on the person of a crucified Jew, would be absolutely unaccountable except on the supposition of the historical truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
2. The Ascension of the risen Lord took place in the neighbourhood of Bethany, and in the presence of His disciples. “While they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9; and see Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, Eph. 4:8).
It was typified beforehand by the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies annually with the blood of the sacrifice on the great Day of Atonement (see Heb. 9:11, 12), also by the ascension of Elijah. The session of Christ at the right hand of God was predicted by the Psalmist (110:1), and by Christ Himself (Matt. 26:64, Luke 22:69).
Christ is now in His Divine and human natures inseparably united in heaven above, yet at the same time He is at all times and in all places present with His Church on earth. “I am with you alway” (were His words just before His ascension), “even unto the end of the world.” What He has done for man did not stop short at Calvary. He is not only a past Benefactor, but a present Mediator. He is “the head of the body, the Church” (Eph. 1:22, Col. 1:18); our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1); ever interceding for them who come to God by Him (Heb. 7:25, Rom. 8:34), and appearing in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24).
3. The return of Christ to judge the world was according to St. Jude prophesied of by Enoch, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all” (Jude 14, 15); and by Daniel (7:13, 14), “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,” ete.; also by Christ Himself (Mark 16:62), “Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” The judgment is also prefigured in many of our Lord’s parables, as that of the husbandman separating the wheat from the chaff (Matt. 3:12), and from the tares (Matt. 13:30–39); of the fisherman gathering the good fish and casting the bad away (Matt. 13:47, 48); of the bridegroom receiving the wise and foolish virgins (Matt. 25:19–30); of the shepherd dividing the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:31–33).
The certainty of a future judgment is also expressly declared in many passages of Holy Scripture, as Acts 10:42, “He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which is ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead” (See also Acts 3:21, 17:31; Rom. 2:6, 2 Cor. 5:10; etc.)
The belief in a future judgment is necessary to vindicate God’s moral government of the world, and to redress the balance of justice which is temporarily disturbed by the conspicuous prosperity of the wicked, and the apparent misery of the righteous in this life. It is also demanded by the moral consciousness of man. The judgment which the conscience is continually passing is an argument for the existence of an external moral law which takes cognizance of human actions, and of a Supreme Judge at whose bar all mankind shall one day be arraigned. Thus the Christian revelation on this, as on other points, is seen to answer to a primary requirement of human nature. In other words, it appeals to our reason no less than to our faith.
Of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
De Spiritu Sancto.
Spiritus Sanctus, a Patre et Filio procedens, ejusdem est cum Patre et Filio essentiae, majestatis, et gloriae, verus ac aeternus Deus.
That the Holy Ghost “is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God” has been already shown (see on Art. I.) to be deducible from the following facts:–
1. That He is mentioned in intimate conjunction with the Father and the Son in the formula of Baptism and of Benediction. The “three Names are joined together without any intimation of a difference of dignity. If one Person be God, all three Persons must be God.
2. That He is directly said to be God by St Peter when rebuking Ananias for lying to the Holy Ghost: “Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:4).
3. That attributes of Deity are ascribed to Him in Scripture, as inspiration of the knowledge of Divine mysteries. See 2 Pet. 2:21: “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Further, the Holy Ghost is said to “proceed” from the Father and the Son. The term “proceed” is used to express the manner in which the Holy Ghost is partaker of the Divine nature: the Godhead, that is, was communicated, yet eternally communicated from the Father and the Son to the Holy Ghost, and not by the Holy Ghost to Them. (See Pearson on the Creed, Art. VIII.)
The Procession of the Holy Ghost was a subject of dispute in the Church from early times. In the Nicene Creed, as completed at Constantinople, the clause relating to the Holy Ghost was stated in the following terms: “And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.” There was no mention of the Holy Ghost proceeding from the Son. It is difficult to say how the words “and the Son” were first introduced into the creed. They are said to be first found in the Acts of the Third Council of Toledo, in Spain (A.D. 589), which was only a provincial synod. The Eastern Church from the first protested against the words, as being an unwarrantable addition to the Creed of Constantinople, which the OEcumenical Council of Ephesus had declared should be ever inviolate. Hence arose a schism between the Eastern and Western Churches, which, fostered by other matters, continues to this day.
It may, however, be a question whether after all the difference between·East and West is more than a verbal one. “The Greeks and Latins,” said Bishop Pearson, “did believe the same thing, viz. that the Son is God of God by being of the Father, so the Holy Ghost is God by being of the Father and the Son.” And he adds, “Now, although the addition of the words to the formal creed without the consent and against the protestation of the Oriental Church be not justifiable, yet that which is added is nevertheless a certain truth” (Pearson on the Creed, Art. VIII.).
That the Holy Ghost may be said to proceed from the Father and the Son, appears from His being called “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9); “the Spirit of his Son” (Gal. 4:6); “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:19, 1 Pet 1:11), etc.; and in John 15:26, and 16:7, Christ declares that He Himself “will send the Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth;” and in John 20:22, we read that Christ breathed on the Apostles, “and they received the Holy Ghost.”
“Thus,” says Bishop Browne, “though we may question the wisdom of adding the words Filioque to a creed drawn up by a general council, yet we do not question the truth of the doctrine conveyed by these words, and which we believe was implicitly held by the divines of the Eastern Church, though they shrank from explicit exposition of it in terms.”
Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an Article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of Holy Scripture we understand those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth.
The First Book of Samuel. The Second Book of Samuel.
The First Book of Kings. The Second Book of Kings.
The First Book of Chronicles. The Second Book of Chronicles.
The First Book of Esdras. The Second Book of Esdras.
The Book of Esther. The Book of Job. The Psalms. The Proverbs.
Ecclesiastes, or Preacher. Cantica, or Songs of Solomon.
Four Prophets the greater. Twelve Prophets the less.
And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:
The Third Book of Esdras. The Fourth Book of Esdras.
The Book of Tobias. The Book of Judith. The rest of the Book of Esther.
The Book of Wisdom. Jesus the son of Sirach. Baruch the Prophet.
The Song of the Three Children. The Story of Susanna. Of Bel and the Dragon.
The Prayer of Manasses. The First Book of Maccabees. The Second Book of Maccabees.
All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.
De divines Scripturis, quod sufficiant ad salutem.
Scriptura sacra continet omnia, quae ad salutem sunt necessaria, ita ut quicquid in ea nec legitur, neque inde probari potest, non sit a quoquam exigendum, ut tanquam Articulus fidei credatur, aut ad salutis necessitatem requiri putetur.
Sacrae Scripturae nomine, eos Canonicos libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti intelligimus, de quorum auctoritate, in Ecclesia nunquam dubitatum est.
De nominibus et numero librorum sacrae Canonicae Scripturae Veteris Testamenti.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numeri, Deuteron, Josuae, Judicum, Ruth, Prior liber Samuelis, Secundus liber Samuelis, Prior liber Regum, Secundus liber Regum, Prior liber Paralipom., Secundus liber Paralipom., Primus liber Esdrae, Secundus liber Esdrae, Liber Hester, Liber Job, Psalmi, Proverbis, Ecclesiastes vel Concionator, Cantica Solomonis, 4 Prophetae Majores, 12 Prophetae Minores.
Alios autem libros (ut ait Hieronymus) legit quidem Ecclesia, ad exempla vitar, et formandos mores: illos tamen ad dogmata confirmanda non adhibet, ut sunt,–
Tertius liber Esdrae, Quartus liber Esdrae, Liber Tobiae, Liber Judith, Reliquum libri Hester, Liber Sapientiae, Liber Jesu filii Sirach, Baruch propheta, Canticum trium puerorum, Historia Susannae, De Bel et Dracone, Oratio Manassis, Prior liber Machabeorum, Secundus liber Machabeorum.
Novi Testamenti omnes libros (ut vulgo recepti sunt) recipimus, et habemus pro Canonicis.
Holy Scripture is in this Article recognized as the authoritative standard of Christian faith and doctrine. The Christian Church has never been without Holy Scripture, that is, without written documents which it has held and reverenced as the Word of God. Our Lord Himself constantly appealed to the Old Testament, and there is hardly a book from which He did not quote. He appealed to the Jewish Scriptures as testifying of Himself; and after His resurrection He expounded them to His disciples, showing that to bear this testimony was from first to last their aim and object (Luke 24:27). The Apostles likewise bore the same testimony to the Old Testament writings. The Beraeans in the Acts are commended for searching the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). St. Paul writes to Timothy, “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:15, 16); and to the Romans, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
The New Testament was in course of time added to the Old, but it was some time after our Lord’s ascension before any book of the New Testament was actually written. The first Gospel was the oral teaching of the Apostles. But after a while, as St. Luke tells us, in the introduction to his Gospel, several of the disciples took in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which were believed amongst the first Christians. It was therefore of the highest importance that before the death of the Apostles authoritative records should be put forth by those who had not only exceptional knowledge of the events they recorded, but who wrote with all the authority of Apostles of Jesus Christ, or under their immediate direction. Thus the historical books of the New Testament came to be written, and the other books were put forth from time to time as they were called for by the special circumstances and requirements of different Churches or bodies of Christians.
Thus it was that the Bible grew up, claiming to be the work of specially inspired men. The Old Testament, we have seen, was received by our Lord and His Apostles as Scripture, and the writers of the New Testament make the same claims for their own writings. Thus St. Paul writes (Gal. 1:11, 12), “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (See also 1 Cor. 2:13, 11:23, 14:37, 15:3; 1 Thess. 2:12, 4:15; 2 Pet. 3:15, 16.) The authenticity of the various books was tested by the consentient voice of the different Churches. There might for a time be a doubt about the authenticity of particular books, but when they were received as the writings of Apostles, or Apostolic men, there was no doubt as to their being the inspired word of God.
To the fact of the inspiration of Scripture, whatever doubts may have at any time existed with regard to the Canon, the Christian Church has borne testimony from the beginning. At the same time the inspired writers, in becoming the mediums of inspiration, must not be regarded as infallible guides, and wholly in advance of their times, with regard to matters that are affected by the limitations of human knowledge. In other words, whilst looking to Holy Scripture for what shall make us “wise unto salvation,” we do not look to find them free from such limitations and imperfections as the state of human intelligence at the time of the writing of the several books would render inevitable; and this applies not only to unscientific expressions, and other formal defects, but also to the relative progress of moral and religious ideas.
Thus it is that the Church of England, without laying down any theory of inspiration, declares that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation.” The Roman Church, on the other hand, holds that there is an unwritten word of God, or tradition, which is of equal value and inspiration with the written word. The Romanists argue, truly enough, that the teaching of our Lord and His Apostles must be equally true whether written or orally delivered, quoting passages of Scripture (as John 21:25, Acts 1:3, etc.) to show that many of our Lord’s doings and sayings were not recorded by the Evangelists; also that the Apostles speak of “ordinances” and traditions which the Churches had been orally taught (1 Cor. 11:2). They fail to show that this oral teaching in any particular exceeded the written revelation, or that the existing tradition of the Roman Church expresses the oral teaching of our Lord and His Apostles. The Church of England, on the other hand, appeals to the written Scriptures alone as the source of truth, holding the written word to be certain truth, whereas the unwritten tradition may be true, but also may be erroneous so far as it is not distinctly provable from the written word. Our Lord strongly condemns the unwritten traditions of the Pharisees (Matt. 15:3, 9; Mark 7:7–13) as making of none effect the written word of the Old Testament, and thus in principle condemns the setting up of a body of unwritten traditions as a virtual supplement to the New Testament.
At the same time some things may be contained in Scripture implicitly, but not explicitly. It is not necessary that everything that we are to believe should be found in so many words in Scripture. It is sufficient that a doctrine should be provable from Scripture. It does not, however, follow that all things which any person fancies he can prove from it are to be believed. The power of interpreting the doctrines of Scripture is vested in the consentient voice of the universal Church. (See on Art. VIII.)
The Article having laid down the plenary authority of Holy Scripture, proceeds to define the extent and limits of Holy Scripture, which is stated to comprise “those Canonical Books, both of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.” By Canonical Books is meant those entitled to stand on the “Canon,” or authoritative list of sacred writings. The word Canon is a Greek word, meaning first a straight rod or carpenter’s rule, the idea of straightness being the primary one. Hence it came to be used for a standard, whether of measurement, art, literature, or morals. In the first three centuries the Canon or Rule of Faith of the Church was the traditional Rule, whether written or unwritten. In the fourth century the term Canon was applied to the acknowledged books of Holy Scripture, the “Canonical Books” being first the books admitted by rule (i.e. by the rule of the Church’s judgment); afterwards the word Canonical was used in an active sense, as “giving the rule”. (See Westcott’s “Bible in the Church,” p. 110 n.)
The Canon of the Old Testament was inherited by the Christian from the Jewish Church. It was, however, received in a twofold form.
1. The Hebrew Canon, containing only the books which this Article admits as canonical, which books alone are quoted from by our Lord and His Apostles, who quote from nearly all of them. These were the only books received by the Jews of Palestine, amongst whom our Lord taught, as well as by modem Jews.
2. The Alexandrine Greek Version, containing, in addition to these, certain other books which were incorporated with the books of the Hebrew Canon, and virtually therefore claimed equally to be inspired.
The Council of Trent, ignoring the opinions of nearly all the ancient Fathers (except, perhaps, Augustine, whose language is by no means decided, and whose ignorance of Hebrew and Greek renders him a very untrustworthy judge in the matter), not only admitted these additional books into the Canon of the Roman Church as of equal authority with Scripture, but placed under an anathema all who should venture to assert a contrary opinion.
But whilst the Church of England does not apply these additional or “Apocryphal” books (so called because of their hidden or uncertain position with regard to Holy Scripture) to establish any doctrine, she reads them “for example of life and instruction of manners.” The books form a connecting link between the Old and New Testaments and are valuable as throwing much light upon the history and manners of the East, and as illustrating the phraseology of Scripture. They also contain many noble sentiments and useful precepts.
As regards the books of the New Testament, there is no difference between the Church of England and any other branch of the Church as to the number of books to be admitted into the Canon. “All the books of the New Testament” (says the Article) “as·they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.” The consentient testimony of the Church from the earliest days is the ground upon which we pronounce upon the authenticity of the various books, and acknowledge them as Scripture. The early Church was singularly qualified to pronounce upon this point, owing to the constant intercourse between the various Churches and the publicity given to the Apostles’ writings from the first. Though probably all the books were written before the end of the first century, yet some having been originally designed for the special circumstances of particular Churches, were not universally known to all Christians till some time after they were written. Collections of the Apostolic writings began to be formed at an early period, and “Versions” or translations made into many languages. The oldest of these is probably the Peshito-Syriac Version, which is referred to the second century. This contains both the Old and New Testaments, but in the latter the Epistle of St Jude, the second of St. Peter, the second and third of St. John, and the Apocalypse are wanting. Besides these books the Epistle of St. James and the Epistle to the Hebrews were not generally received into the Canon for some time. Hence these seven books were classed as “Antilegomena” (αντιλεγόμενα), as opposed to the other books which were “Homologoumena” (ομολογούμενα), i.e. generally acknowledged.
These books were, however, received as Scripture by all early writers of note, and were sanctioned with the full authority of the Council of Laodicea, 364 A.D. and of Carthage 397 A.D. and others after them.
At the Reformation there was a tendency to revive the distinction between the Homologoumena and Antilegomena, and Luther speaks with disrespect of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle of St Jude, and the Apocalypse, and calls the Epistle of St. James an “epistle of straw.” The private opinion of isolated individuals of course goes for nothing against the consentient testimony of the Fathers, and the opinion of the general body of Christians from the earliest days. The very fact that some of the books were at first regarded with doubt in the early Church only shows what great care and caution was exercised in the matter of admitting books into the Canon, and thus affords an additional guarantee of the genuineness of the Canon as we now receive it.
Of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New, for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil Precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet not withstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.
De Veteri Testamento.
Testamentum Vetus Novo contrarium non est, quandoquidem tam in Veteri, quam in Novo, per Christum, qui unicus est Mediator Dei et hominum, Deus et homo, aeterna vita humano generi est proposita. Quare male sentiunt, qui veteres tantum in promissiones temporarias sperasse confingunt. Quanquam lex a Deo data per Mosen (quoad caeremonias et ritus) Christianos non astringat, neque civilia ejus praecepta in aliqua republica necessario recipi debeant, nihilominus tamen ab obedientia mandatorum (quae moralia vocantur) nullus (quantumvis Christianus) est solutus.
The Seventh Article was especially directed against the Antinomianism of certain fanatical sects of the Reformation period. The term Antinomianism was first applied to the teaching of John Agricola (1537), a disciple of Luther, who carried the doctrine of justification by faith so far as to deny the necessity to salvation of the written word in general, and the Old Testament in particular, including the moral law. His followers were led into all sorts of excesses, making a “lively faith” compatible with every sort of wickedness and bodily indulgence.
The Article asserts the unity and harmony of Holy Scripture, the whole purpose of which is to proclaim Christ as the Author of everlasting life, and the one Mediator between God and man. This purpose is seen in the prophecies, types, and symbols of the Old Testament, which find their fulfillment in the events recorded in the New Testament. The Law (according to St. Paul) had an educational purpose to serve. “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Gal 3:24). And in the beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews, we read, “ God, who at sundry times and in divers manners” (or rather “by divers portions and in divers manners”) spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1, 2); and the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of the Law as having “a shadow of good things to come.”
Throughout the Old Testament, three ideas are prominent – the holiness of God, the consciousness of sin, and the coming deliverance from sin. The sacrifices of the Law, and especially the great Day of Atonement, were a constant remembrancer of sin, and a token of the conviction of the need of salvation through atonement. From the earliest days after the Fall, men were acquainted with a prophetic promise of such a deliverance by the Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15). To Abraham it was promised that in his Seed all the families of the earth should be blessed (Gen. 12:3, 22:18; and see Gal. 3:16). Jacob, blessing Judah, declared that the scepter should not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till Shiloh should come (Gen. 49:10). Moses declared to the Israelites, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me” (Deut. 18:15). Balaam prophesied of a Star that should come out of Jacob, and a Scepter that should rise out of Israel (Numb. 24:17). The Psalms are full of prophetic allusions to the coming of the Messias. All the types and ceremonies of the Old Dispensation looked forward to Christ as the sole means of reconciliation and atonement. So our Lord Himself says to the Jews, “Search the Scriptures” (i.e. the Old Testament Scriptures); “for they are they which testify of me ... “If ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me” (John 5:39, 46). Thus it is clear that the old Fathers did not look only for transitory promises. The Old and New Testaments are successive developments of God’s gracious plan for the restoration of the human race. So far from being contrary to one another, the one implicitly, the other explicitly, point to Christ as the Author of eternal life. Novum Testamentum in vetere latet, Vetus Testamentum in Novo patet.
The Article rightly distinguishes the Jewish law as threefold:–
1. The ceremonial law. This was fulfilled in Christ and therefore is no longer binding on Christian men. The whole Jewish ritual was symbolical and typical. When the Antitype was come this ritual became obsolete. Cf. Heb. 8:13: “In that he saith, A New Covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
2. The political or civil law, which was framed with a view to the special circumstances of a particular nation, and so necessarily inapplicable to the whole world. The Jewish civil law was the statute law of a Theocratic commonwealth. Jehovah was the exclusive temporal Sovereign of the Jewish nation. Offences against religion were offences against the State, acts of treason punishable with death. The circumstances of the kingdom of Israel cannot be repeated. Hence the civil law is no longer binding. Civil punishment for religious offences as such are an anachronism, as are religious wars and religious persecutions.
3. The moral law, which is of permanent obligation, because founded on eternal principles of truth and justice. Man’s moral consciousness bears testimony to the existence of a moral law, as well as of an eternal and unchangeable moral Lawgiver. The moral law as given by God from Sinai is shown by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount to be binding on Christians in a stricter and more spiritual sense than that in which it was understood by the Jews. Thus the seventh commandment forbids not only the open act of sin, but the impure look and unholy thought. The sixth, not only the murderous deed, but the angry word and angry feeling. With reference to the moral law, Christ’s words are, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:17–19).
Of the Three Creeds.
The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.
De tribus Symbolis.
Symbola tria, Nicaenum, Athanasii, et quod vulgo Apostolorum appellatur, omnino recipienda sunt, et credenda, nam firmissimis Scripturarum testimoniis probari possunt.
The existence of creeds, or professions of faith, is coeval with and essential to the preaching of Christianity. The first preaching of the gospel was not a preaching of love or exalted morality, but of a series of supernatural facts, all having reference to the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Who He is, what He has done for mankind, what He is doing and what He will do are facts in which the whole of Christianity is centered and summed up.
Our Lord Himself, when He commissioned the eleven to make disciples of all nations by baptizing them, gave them a formula intended both for actual use and as a basis of instruction (Matt. 28:19, 20). A profession of the rudimentary Articles of the Christian Faith, founded upon this Divine formula, was from the first required of catechumens before baptism. Hence arose the necessity of definite formularies or statements of the most necessary truths of Christian doctrine. Indications of the existence of such statements appear in the New Testament – now described as a “rule of faith” (Phil. 3:16), now as a “profession of our faith” (Heb. 10:23), now as a “form of doctrine” (Rom. 6:17, 16:17), now as a “form of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13), etc. These creeds were at first not written, probably from a feeling of reverence for their sacred character, but committed to memory. Whilst agreeing in their main outline, they exhibit local varieties in points of detail, each Church being left to frame its own doctrinal formula according to its own special requirements. As persecutions arose against the Church from without, or heresies sprung up within her fold, the creed became not only the basis of instruction, but the symbolum, or watchword by which the true Christian soldier was distinguished from open enemies of Christianity as well as from false friends.
The creeds of the Eastern and Western Churches followed two distinct lines of descent from the common origin of the baptismal formula enjoined by our Lord, the former at length merging into the so-called “Nicene Creed,” the latter into the so-called “Apostles Creed”.
The Nicene (or Eastern) Creed derives its name from the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) at which the first part of it, ending with the words, “I believe in the Holy Ghost,” was drawn up on the basis of existing creeds of the Eastern Church, being directed principally against the heresy of Arius, in opposition to whose teaching the creed asserts the consubstantiality (το όμοούσιον) of God the Father and God the Son. The remaining portion of the Nicene Creed has been commonly supposed to have been drawn up at the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381). This statement, however, is now called in question. The first Canon of the Council of Constantinople ordained “that the creed of Nicaea shall not be set aside, but remain valid.” Moreover, at the Third General Council, that of Ephesus (A.D. 431), the old form of the creed is declared to be authoritative. The full form of the creed as we now possess it, with the exception of the words “and the Son,” is first found in the Acts of the Fourth General Council held at Chalcedon, A.D. 481, where the assembled Fathers, whilst declaring that the Faith of the Fathers of Nicaea is to remain inviolate, at the same time confirmed as orthodox the confession of the one hundred and fifty Fathers assembled at Constantinople. The true account of the matter probably is that the form of the creed which was destined afterwards to supersede the confession of Nicaea was an adaptation of the creed of the ancient Mother Church of Jerusalem, and was submitted to the Constantinopolitan Fathers, and by them pronounced to be orthodox.
Subsequently in the Latin version of the creed the Filioque clause was added and accepted in the Western Church, but repudiated in the Eastern. (On this point see under Art V.)
The creed “commonly called the Apostles’ Creed” is the development of the older and simpler creeds of the Western Church. It may be traced in three lines of descent through the creeds of the Churches of Africa, Italy, and Gaul.
The legend that it was composed by the Apostles, each of them contributing a clause, must be dismissed from the region of serious history. This legend appears in two sermons attributed to St. Augustine, but the two accounts are not consistent, and the sermons themselves are of very questionable authority.
The fullest forms of the Creed of the African Church are those of the Church of Hippo, as found in the writings of Augustine, circa A.D. 393. Two forms are found, both approximating to the Apostles’ Creed as now in use. The early creeds of the Italian Churches are brief and simple. We have, however, two forms of the Roman symbol in the middle and at the end of the fourth century, almost identical with one another and with the creed of the Church of Hippo as given by Augustine; the former the creed recited by Marcellus, Bishop of Ancyra, to Pope Julius, A.D. 341; the other contained in the Commentary of Rufinus of Aquileia, circa A.D. 400, who notes sundry differences between the symbols of the Churches of Rome and Aquileia. The Apostles’ Creed,” as we now possess it, attained to its complete shape in the Churches of Gaul, which contributed the Articles, “He descended into Hell,” and “The Communion of Saints,” to the Western Creed, and added the words “Maker of Heaven and Earth” to the first Article.
The earliest known creed precisely identical with the Western or Apostles’ Creed in its present form is contained in a short treatise by Pirminius – a Bishop first of Gaul and then of Germany, who died in the middle of the eighth century. (See Miller on the Thirty-nine Articles, III. p. 178.)
The Athanasian Creed is of uncertain date and authorship. It is agreed, however, that it cannot be traced to the great champion of the faith after whom it is called, who died A.D. 375. It is probably called by the name of St. Athanasius, as asserting the doctrines for which he so earnestly contended in opposition to the teaching of Arius and his [follower]s. Dr. Waterland argues that it was written for the use of the Church in Gaul by Hilary, Bishop of Arles, about A.D. 430. Others ascribe it to Vigilius, Bishop of Thapsus, in Sicily, or Victricius, Bishop of Rouen at the end of the fifth century. Its substance is found in the Canons of the three Councils of Toledo in Spain (A.D. 589, 633, 638), and all clerics were directed to learn it by the Council at Autun (A.D. 670). It was received into the offices of the English Church during the ninth century, with the title “Quicunque Vult,” but was not adopted in the Roman Service till 930. The creed is found in the “Utrecht Psalter,” ascribed by Sir T. Duffus Hardy to the end of the sixth century, though other modern authorities contend for a later date.
Of these creeds the Article says that they are “thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.” Thus Holy Scripture is still regarded as the Rule of Faith. The creeds declare the sense in which the Church Catholic has interpreted the language of Scripture with regard to the most necessary Articles of the Faith. Thus they are safeguards against arbitrary interpretations of Scripture by individuals or particular bodies of professing Christians which contradict the voice of the Church at large. The Church of England does not claim acceptance for the creeds simply because they have been handed down in the Church, but because they are found to agree with the concurrent tradition contained in the Scriptures. The Scripture and the creeds throw light upon one another. The creeds interpret Scripture but do not go beyond or add to the faith as therein contained.
This consideration meets the objections sometimes brought against the Athanasian Creed on the ground of its metaphysical language, and also on the ground of the supposed uncharitableness of its “damnatory” or “minatory” clauses. It must be remembered, when objection is brought against the metaphysical statements of the Athanasian Creed, that these statements were not designed as a formula for simple-minded Christians, but as a protection against insinuating heretics. When objection is taken to certain clauses of the creed, the Church sends the objector to “search the Scriptures” to see whether the statements of the creed may be “found therein or proved thereby.” As we understand our Lord’s words in Mark 16:16, “He that believeth not shall be damned;” or John 3:18, “He that believeth not is condemned already”; or St. Paul’s words in 2 Thess. 2:10–12, “They received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth”; or Gal. 1:9, “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed,” and other similar passages, in precisely the same sense do we understand the words of the Athanasian Creed. The objection, therefore, goes too far for it is against Scripture rather than against the creed.
Does Scripture, then, call on us to sit in judgment on our fellowmen? Certainly not, nor does the creed. It merely echoes the words of Holy Scripture in declaring that where there is willful rejection of the fundamental doctrines of Revelation, there cannot be, on the revealed truths of the gospel, entrance into the kingdom of heaven. God alone knows the special circumstances of each individual case, and what allowance is to be made for weakness of judgment, imperfect education, or other circumstances. In any case “the Judge of all the earth” will assuredly “do right”.
Though the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds have no monitory clauses, they must be read in conjunction with our Lord’s words above quoted.
Luther designated the Athanasian Creed as the “bulwark of the Apostles’ Creed, and an excellent preservative against those who are not ashamed to make a jest of the Holy Trinity and to ridicule the Incarnation of Christ.”
It is noteworthy that the Athanasian Creed is received in the Eastern Church, and regarded as a document of first class importance, being appended to the Horologium, or Book of Common Prayer.
Of Original or Birth Sin.
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians to vainly talk); but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek Φρόνημα σαρκος, which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh, is not subject to the law of God. And, although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.
De peccato originali.
Peccatum originis non est (ut fabulantur Pelagiani) in imitatione Adami situm, sed est vitium, et depravatio naturae, eujuslibet hominis ex Adamo naturaliter propagati: qua fit, ut ab originali justitia quam longissime distet, ad malum sua natura propendeat, et caro semper adversus spiritum concupiscat, unde in unoquoque nascentium, iram Dei atque damnationem meretur. Manet etiam in renatis haec naturae depravatio. Qua fit, ut affectus carnis, Graece Φρόνημα σαρκος, (quod alii sapientiam, alii sensum, alii affectum, alii studium carnis interpretantur,) legi Dei non subjiciatur. Et quanquam renatis et credentibus nulla propter Christum est condemnatio, peccati tamen in sese rationem habere concupiscentiam, fatetur Apostolus.
The term “Original Sin” (Peccatum Originis) is first found in the writings of Augustine. Earlier Fathers speak of “the old guilt,” “the ancient wound,” “the common curse,” “the old sin,” etc.
By original sin we understand that depravation and corruption of man’s whole nature inherited from fallen Adam, whereby all men are (1) born out of God’s favour and exposed to His sentence of condemnation; (2) naturally prone to sin, and often led to commit actual sin.
(1) Adam and Eve before the Fall had “original righteousness,” but all their posterity have inherited a fallen nature, because Adam had after the Fall no original righteousness to transmit, but only a nature under sentence or God’s wrath, and tending to evil as regards the soul, and death as regards the body. This is what the Church Catechism expresses by saying that every child born into the world is “by nature born in sin and the child of wrath”.
The first result of the Fall, this state of disfavour, wrath, or condemnation, is removed by Christian baptism. Apart from Christ we deserve the Condemnation of death as soon as we are born. By baptism we become regenerate, or born again. That is, the Sacrament of Baptism takes us out of our original state and places us in a state of grace, or “state of salvation.” So it is called by St. Paul (Titus 3:3) “the washing of regeneration” (λουτρον παλιγγενεσιας). On this see further under Art. XXVII, and compare the preliminary exhortation in the Baptismal Service for Infants: “Forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in sin; and that our Saviour Christ saith, None can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be regenerate and born anew of Water and of the Holy Ghost; I beseech you to call on God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ, that of His bounteous mercy He will grant to this child that thing which by nature he cannot have.”
(2) But though baptism thus alters our relation to God in this way, it does not do away with the natural tendency to sin. This, as the Article declares, remains even in them that are regenerate or baptized. The Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, bear ample testimony to this natural sinfulness, as also does the experience of all mankind. In Gen. 8:21, God says of man that “the imagination of his heart is only evil from his youth.” In Jer. 17:9, we read; “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”; and St. Paul says (Rom. 7:18), “I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing;” and again (Rom. 8:7), “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” The consequence is that the life of the Christian is one of perpetual struggle between the tendency to sin inherited by nature, and the tendency to good wrought in us by God’s Holy Spirit. The complaint of the Apostle finds an echo in thousands of human hearts: “The good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Rom. 7:19, 21). Cf. also Rom. 8:7, “The carnal mind (το φρόνημα της σαρκός) is enmity against God,” etc. See also Gal 5:17, etc.
This universal consciousness of sin requires a historical fact to account for it. Such a fact is supplied in the scriptural account of the fall of man to which Holy Scripture traces its origin. “In Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22); “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12); “By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation” (5:18); “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (5:19), etc. And as if to guard against the interpretation that sin is the result only of following Adam’s example, the Apostle says, “Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression” (5:14).
In opposition to Scripture, Pelagius and his followers taught that Adam did not transmit to his descendants the stain of sin as the consequence of the fall; but that every man is born pure and falls as Adam did from original righteousness by imitating Adam; that Adam was by nature mortal, and would have died in the course of nature even had he not sinned; and that man stands in no need of Divine grace to enable him to do righteously, but can by his own free will eventually arrive at a state of impeccability, and that Christ died for such to obtain pardon for any sins they may have committed before arriving at this state, and everlasting salvation.
Pelagius Brito (or Morgan, as he was called at home, the name meaning the same as Pelagius, “belonging to the sea”) was a native of Wales. His false teaching, however, was first propagated abroad at the end of the fourth century, and was only introduced into Britain after it had spread for some time in Palestine and Africa. Pelagius was strenuously opposed by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, and his opinions were condemned by the Council of Carthage in A.D. 416, and later by the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431. In Britain the Pelagian heresy was effectually stamped out, mainly through the teaching of the emissaries from the Church in Gaul, to which the British Bishops had applied for assistance.
The Article finally asserts that “though there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized,” or, as the Latin Version expresses it, “for them that are born again and believe” (renatis et credentibus), “yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin. “The reference is to Rom. 8:1, “There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”; and Rom. 7:7, 8, “I had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.”
In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord seems to speak of the desire to sin being in itself sinful (Matt. 5:28). The Council of Trent denied that such concupiscence was in any way the result of original sin, though leading to actual sin. The difference may possibly be a verbal one.
The Roman Church, without any warrant from Scripture, and contrary to the testimony of early Fathers, has not only decreed the exemption of the blessed virgin mother of our Lord from original sin, but has made the doctrine of the immaculate conception de fide.
Of Free Will
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.
De libero arbitrio.
Ea est hominis post lapsum Adae conditio, ut sese naturalibus suis viribus, et bonis operibus, ad fidem et invocationem Dei convertere ac praeparare non possit. Quare absque gratia Dei (quae per Christum est) nos praeveniente, ut velimus, et cooperante, dum volumus, ad pietatis opera facienda, quae Deo grata sunt et accepta, nihil valemus.
This Article continues the subject of Article IX. Our corrupt nature renders us prone, even after baptismal regeneration, to fall into sin. God gives us His grace, (1) to help us to resist evil and do good: this is His preventing or prevenient grace; (2) to work with us in the struggle against sin, and in carrying through any good work: this is His cooperating grace.
In considering this subject two errors have to be guarded against.
God has given us a free will. He also gives us His grace to enable us to direct our will in conformity with His will. If we think that God’s grace is irresistible, that is, that it will force men to be saved without their own cooperation, we are in error. We are equally in error if we imagine that our will can do everything necessary to secure our salvation without the assistance of God’s grace.
The need of God’s prevenient grace is shown by our Lord’s words in John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” and John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing;” 2·Cor. 3:5, “We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;” 1 Cor. 12:3, “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost”; and other passages.
For the need of God’s cooperating grace, compare John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear· fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me;” Eph. 2:8, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
The need of our cooperation with God’s grace is shown from Phil. 2:12, 13, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” St. Paul, too, exhorts the Corinthians (2 Cor. 6:1) to “receive not the grace of God in vain.”
With this Article compare the Collect at the end of the Communion Service: “Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings with Thy most gracious favour, and further us with Thy continual help.” Also the Collect for Easter Day: “As by Thy special grace preventing us Thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect.” Also the Collect for the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity: “Lord, we pray Thee that Thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works.”
Of the Justification of Man.
We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.
De hominis justificatione.
Tantum propter meritum Domini ac Servatoris nostri Jesu Christi, per fidem, non propter opera, et merita nostra, justi coram Deo reputamur. Quare sola fide nos justificari doctrina est saluberrima, ac consolationis plenissima, ut in homilia de justificatione hominis fusius explicatur.
The point of this Article is the assertion that Christ is the meritorious cause of a man’s salvation, and not a man’s own works or deservings. This same truth is expressed from another point of view by the statement that we are justified by faith only. Faith being an entire dependence on Christ’s merits necessarily excludes all other merit.
This is brought out even more clearly in the Latin Version. We are accounted righteous not “propter fidem,” but “propter meritum Christi per fidem.” [So in the New Testament we are said to be justified πίστει, εκ πίστεως, δια της πίστεως, but never δια την πίστιν.]
Faith, then, so far as it justifies, is independent of works of any kind. It is reliance on Christ’s merits and nothing else. This is the argument St. Paul so constantly employs against the Jews who “rested in the law” (Rom. 2:17). The observance of all the Levitical precepts could not make them just or righteous before God. “By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Rom. 3:20). “Justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, ... that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded ... by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:24, etc.). “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, [Greek εαν μη δια πίστεως Ιησου Χριστου: Revised Version, “save through faith in Jesus Christ.”] that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law” (Gal 2:16). “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9). “That no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Gal 3:11), etc.
St. Paul in these and other passages opposes justification by faith to justification by the works of the law, which could not of themselves make men just in the sight of God.
From other passages of St. Paul’s Epistles, it is clear that the faith of which he speaks is an active faith – “faith which worketh by love” (Gal 5:6). Faith does not do away with the necessity of personal efforts after holiness of life, as the followers of Luther taught, for St. Paul declares (Rom. 2:6, 13) that God “will render to every man according to his works;” and again, “Not the hearers of the law are justified before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” Thus the language of St. Paul is perfectly consistent with the language of St. James, who writes (2:14), “What doth it profit, my brethren, that a man say he hath faith, but have not works? can faith save him?” and again (2:17), “Faith, if it have not works, is dead, being alone;” and again (2:24), “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
The “Homily of Justification” mentioned in this Article is supposed to be that “Of the Salvation of all Mankind,” being the third of the First Book of Homilies. The following passage from this Homily shows the connection of justification with baptism, and opposes the erroneous view of justification by faith, which makes the holding of this doctrine supersede sacramental grace and personal repentance: “Infants being baptized and dying in their infancy, are by this sacrifice (i.e. of Christ upon the cross) washed from their sins, brought into God’s favour, and made His children and inheritors of the kingdom of Heaven. And they which in act and deed do sin after their baptism, when they turn to God unfeignedly, they are likewise washed by this sacrifice from their sins in such sort that there remaineth not any spot of sin that shall be imputed to their damnation. This is that justification or righteousness of which St. Paul speaketh, when he saith no man is justified by the works of the law, but freely by faith in Jesus Christ.”
Baptism is the formal admission into a state of justification, or, as the Church Catechism says, a “state of salvation”. Faith is the means by which a state of justification is received and continually appropriated.
The doctrine of justification by faith rightly understood is “wholesome” as a corrective of spiritual pride and self-righteousness. It is “full of comfort,” because it assures those who are conscious of the imperfection of their best efforts after holiness, that these will be accepted through Christ’s all-sufficient merits, and teaches sinners that none need despair of justification, and consequently of salvation, who with repentance and faith throw themselves upon God’s mercy, trusting only to the merits and mediation of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Of Good Works
Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s Judgment: yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith; insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.
De bonis operibus.
Bona opera, quae sunt fructus fidei, et justificatos sequuntur, quanquam peccata nostra expiare, et divini judicii severitatem ferre non possunt; Deo tamen grata sunt, et accepta in Christo, atque ex vera et viva fide necessario profluunt, ut plane ex illis, aeque fides viva cognosci possit, atque arbor ex fructu judicari.
This Article was not amongst those of 1552 (see Introduction) but was introduced by Archbishop Parker in 1562 to make more clear the teaching of the last Article, and to oppose the errors of the “Antinomians” and “Solifidians”. Luther carried his zeal for the doctrine of “justification by faith” so far as to lead his more incautious followers to deny the importance of good works altogether, and even to reject the moral law. Luther made it appear that the teaching of St. James was opposed to the teaching of St. Paul, and went so far as to call the Epistle of St. James “an epistle of straw” (straminea epistola). Of course he was grievously in error.
What this Article, taken in connection with the last, asserts is this: That although the atonement made by Christ is the sole meritorious cause of man’s salvation, and faith the necessary condition on man’s part for its attainment; and although, apart from God’s grace, man’s works are worthless or even sinful; yet works which are the fruits of faith are both pleasing to God in Christ, and a testimony to the reality and vitality of our faith. When the Article speaks of good works that follow after justification (Latin, justificatos sequuntur), it is meant to limit the application of this Article to such good works as are done by baptized Christians, that is by those who have been admitted into a state of justification. The fact of their having been admitted into such a state is in itself the strongest argument for the necessity of a holy life. Those who have been admitted into a state of justification are bound to live the life of justification. This is St. Paul’s argument in Rom. 5 and 6: “Being therefore justified by faith ... What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Compare also Matt. 7:16, 17; James 2:18, Titus 2:14, etc., and the numerous exhortations to practical holiness running through Holy Scripture. See also what has been said under the last Article.
Of Works Before Justification.
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.
De operibus ante justificationem.
Opera quae fiunt ante gratiam Christi, et spiritus ejus afflatum, cum ex fide Jesu Christi non prodeant, minime Deo grata sunt, neque gratiam (ut multi vocant) de congruo merentur. Immo cum non sunt facta ut Deus illa fieri voluit et praecepit, peccati rationem habere non dubitamus.
This Article seems to be directed against the Pelagian teaching which, denying original corruption, asserted that a man could by himself arrive at a state of impeccability. The Article declares that we need to be brought into a state of justification, that is grafted by baptism into Christ, before we can be in God’s favour, or do works which are pleasing to Him. “Without me” (says our Lord) (χωρις εμου) “ye can do nothing” (John 15:3); and St. Paul says (Rom. 8:9), “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”; and again, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Admitting the corruption of nature, it follows that works that partake of this corruption cannot be pleasing to God. The Article says nothing at all as to the final state of the heathen, who have never had an opportunity of knowing Christ. It refers only to those who, having had the opportunity, willfully reject the grace of God.
The “school authors,” or “schoolmen,” were the originators of a system of theology in the Middle Ages which sought to establish the doctrines of Christianity on philosophical principles, indulging largely in subtle distinctions and dialectical arguments. They distinguished between good works done by persons in a state of nature, who had attained to a certain degree of morality, to which they assigned merit ex congruo, i.e. from a certain a priori fitness for the reception of God’s grace, and works done by the aid of grace which could claim a reward ex condigno, i.e. to a certain extent on their own merits, the former being rewarded only by the liberality of God.
Of Works of Supererogation
Voluntary Works besides, over and above God’s commandments, which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety. For by them men do declare, that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required; whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We be unprofitable servants.
De operibus supererogationis.
Opera quae supererogationis appellant, non possunt sine arrogantia et impietate praedicari. Nam illis declarant homines, non tantum se Deo reddere, quae tenentur, sed plus in ejus gratiam facere, quam deberent, cum aperte Christus dicat; Cum feceritis omnia quaecunque praecepta sunt vobis, dicite, Servi inutiles sumus.
If by our own natural works we cannot please God, and if our Christian works are pleasing to God only in Christ, and not for any merits of their own, it follows that we cannot have any superfluity of righteousness. Therefore we are not able erogare de nostro, i.e. to payout of our own resources as much as we ought to God. Much less are we able super-erogare to pay more than we are bound to do.
Works of supererogation, according to the Romish theory, are good deeds that a man may have done over and above what is necessary to secure his own salvation. The Romanists argue that, besides the positive duties urged in Scripture as of universal obligation, there are certain “counsels of perfection,” as invitations to celibacy, poverty, etc., which may be voluntarily undertaken, to fulfill which is to merit a reward in excess of those who fulfill the true letter of God’s law. It is added that this superfluity of merit is the common possession of the Church, and may be dispensed in the form of pardons and indulgences by the Roman See, i.e. by the Pope.
No shadow of authority for the Romish doctrine of a treasury of merits can be found in Holy Scripture. It is perfectly true that Holy Scripture sometimes commands, and sometimes only counsels, and that certain states of life, as Holy Orders, are not intended to be common to all. Nor need we hesitate to believe that special acts of self-consecration or charity, voluntarily undertaken for the love of God and faithfully carried out, may be attended with special grace here, and perhaps with special rewards in the world to come. Still no amount of human obedience can exceed or even attain to the strictness of the Divine command, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength,” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:30, 31). “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48). “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10).
Of Christ Alone Without Sin.
Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things (sin only except), from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh and in his spirit. He came to be the Lamb without spot, who, by the sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world, and sin (as St. John saith), was not in him. But all we the rest (although baptized, and born again in Christ), yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
De Christo, qui solus est sine peccato.
Christus in nostrae naturae veritate, per omnia similis factus est nobis, excepto peccato, a quo prorsus erat immunis, tum in carne, tum in spiritu. Venit ut agnus, absque macula, qui mundi peccata per immolationem sui semel factam tolleret, et peccatum (ut inquit Johannes) in eo non erat: sed no reliqui etiam baptizati, et in Christo regenerati, in multis tamen offendimus omnes. Et si dixerimus, quia peccatum non habemus, nos ipsos seducimus, et veritas in nobis non est.
The former part of this Article is directed against the Socinian error that Christ was peccable or capable of sinning, and therefore unable to atone for sin. The latter part condemns the error that baptized persons could live without sin.
In contradiction of these errors the Article asserts (1) the sinlessness of Christ. Christ was clearly, that is entirely, void from sin, both original and actual. The message of the angel to the Virgin Mary was, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Our Lord said of Himself; “The Prince of the world cometh: and hath nothing in me” (John 14:30). In the Epistle to the Hebrews He is described as “One that was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” And St. Peter quotes with reference to Christ the words of Isaiah, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22).
Had not Christ been entirely free from sin He would Himself have stood in need of a Redeemer, and could not have been the Redeemer of others. But Christ being without sin became the antitype of the Paschal Lamb, which was required to be “without blemish.” And so He was pointed out by John the Baptist as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And St. Peter says (1 Pet. 1:18, 19), “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
The Article asserts (2) the sinfulness of all mankind besides Christ, even after baptismal regeneration. On this point see on Art. IX., and compare further James 3:2, “In many things we offend all;” 1 John 1:8, 10, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”; “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us”; and the petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Luke 7:4, “Forgive us our sins.”
This Article, of course, opposes the idea of the sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a doctrine which has not a shadow of scriptural authority, but was invented by certain devotees about the eleventh century, and finally decreed by Pope Pius IX on December 8,. 1854.
Of Sin After Baptism.
Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
De peccato post Baptismum.
Non omne peccatum mortale post Baptismum voluntarie perpetratum, est peccatum in Spiritum Sanctum, et irremissibile. Proinde lapsis a Baptismo in peccata, locus poenitentiae non est negandus. Post acceptum Spiritum Sanctum possumus a gratia data recedere atque peccare, denuoque per gratiam Dei resurgere ac resipiscere; ideoque illi damnandi sunt, qui se, quamdiu hic vivant, amplius non posse peccare affirmant, aut vere resipiscentibus veniae locum denegant.
Baptism admits us to a “state of salvation”. The grace given to us at our baptism does not, in consequence of the “infection of our nature,” insure us against sinning. Nor do the sins we commit after baptism, even though they be deadly sins (i.e. willfully and deliberately committed), preclude us from salvation, provided that we truly repent.
This is the doctrine maintained in this Article against two opposite errors. (1) The error first introduced by Novatian, a presbyter of Rome, in the third century A.D., who taught that every great sin committed after baptism is unpardonable, and that therefore the “lapsed,” or those who had fallen into apostasy under the Decian persecution, had no more hope of salvation and could not be restored to the Church. His doctrine was founded on Matt. 12:31, 32, which speaks of the sin against the Holy Ghost as being unpardonable, and Heb. 6:4–6, “It is impossible for those who were once enlightened” (i.e. in Baptism), “and have tasted of the heavenly gift” (i.e. of the Lord’s Supper), “and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost” (i.e. in Confirmation), “and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance.” Novatian got himself consecrated by some Italian Bishops, and set up a schismatical body, rebaptizing those whom it admitted into its communion. The sect died out in the seventh century, but its error was revived by some enthusiasts at the time of the Reformation.
With regard to the two texts above mentioned, what is meant by the sin against the Holy Ghost is not explained in Holy Scripture. It is generally thought to be the imputation of a diabolic origin to the miracles of our Lord. Others have held that it is final impenitency. We may believe that it is mentioned by our Lord as the climax of wretchedness and misery, to warn us of the fearful consequences to which a long course of sin unrepented of may lead us.
The passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews is commonly interpreted of the exceeding difficulty of a return after an apostasy from God.
The Novatian error is disproved by our Lord’s words to St Peter on forgiving offences (Matt. 18: 22), and by the restoration of St. Peter after his fall, as well as by the frequent exhortations to repentance running through the Apostolical Epistles, which are all addressed to baptized Christians. St. Paul, in 1 Cor. 5:5, holds out a hope even to the incestuous Corinthian, who was a baptized Christian, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Besides, if every one who sins after baptism is to be excluded from salvation, none could be saved except infants, who have committed no actual sin, and people would be liable to fall into the error of Constantine, who refused to be baptized till near his death.
2. The second error condemned by the Article is the doctrine of “final perseverance,” as revived by the Puritans at the time of the Reformation. Starting from the doctrine of an absolute predestination of a limited number of persons to ultimate salvation, it followed that those thus predestinated could not fall finally from grace. At the Hampton Court Conference the Puritans pressed for the addition of the words “though not finally,” after the words “we may depart from grace given,” in this Article.
The doctrine of final perseverance is contradicted by the fact that even angels have fallen (Jude 6); the children of Israel, after their deliverance from Egypt and the passage of the Red Sea, which is a type of baptism (1 Cor. 10:2), fell away and forfeited their inheritance in the land of promise. St. Paul was anxious lest, after he had preached to others, he himself should be a cast away (1 Cor. 9:27; see also Phil. 3:13, 14); and he exhorts the Philippians (Phil. 2:12), “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” He would not have thus cautioned them if the grace of God were irresistible. So St. Peter urges us to pass the time of our sojourning in fear (1 Pet. 1:17), knowing that we were redeemed not with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ. Whilst St. John points to the sacrifice of Christ as the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
Of Predestination and Election.
Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.
As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: so, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.
Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.
De praedestinatione et electione.
Praedestinatio ad vitam, est aeternum Dei propositum, quo ante jacta mundi fundamenta, suo consilio, nobis quidem occulto, constanter decrevit, eos quos in Christo elegit ex hominum genere, a maledicto et exitio liberare, atque (ut vasa in honorem efficta) per Christum, ad aeternam salutem adducere. Unde qui tam praeclaro Dei beneficio sunt donati, illi spiritu ejus, opportuno tempore operante, secundum propositum ejus vocantur, vocationi per gratiam parent, justificantur gratis, adoptantur in filios Dei, unigeniti ejus Jesu Christi imagini efficiuntur conformes, in bonis operibus sancte ambulant, et demum ex Dei misericordia pertingunt ad sempiternam felicitatem.
Quemadmodum praedestinationis et electionis nostrae in Christo pia consideratio, dulcis, suavis, et ineffabilis consolationis plena est vere piis, et his qui sentiunt in se vim spiritus Christi, facta carnis, et membra, quae adhuc sunt super terram, mortificantem, animumque ad coelestia et superna rapientem; tum quia fidem nostram de aeterna salute consequenda per Christum plurimum stabilit atque confirmat, tum quia amorem nostrum in Deum vehementer accendit: ita hominibus curiosis, carnalibus, et spiritu Christi destitutis, ob oculos perpetuo versari praedestinationis Dei sententiam, perniciosissimum est praecipitium, unde illos diabolus protrudit, vel in desperationem, vel in aeque perniciosam impurissimae vitae securitatem; deinde promissiones divinas sic amplecti oportet, ut nobis in sacris literis generaliter propositae sunt, et Dei voluntas in nostris actionibus ea sequenda est, quam in verbo Dei habemus, diserte revelatam.
The subject of predestination and election was one which much exercised the minds of men at the time of the Reformation. The Calvinists, or followers of John Calvin, the Geneva reformer, born at Noyou in Picardy in 1509, held the doctrine of absolute predestination, whereby a chosen few, the elect, are individually and personally predestinated to eternal salvation and irresistibly drawn by the Holy Spirit, whilst all others are reprobated to eternal misery. Thus the Calvinists ignored the free will of man. The Arminians, on the other hand, or followers of one Armunsen (Latinized into Arminius), who was born in Holland in 1560, directly opposed the Calvinists, maintaining that God’s decrees were framed in consequence of God’s preknowledge of the use which mankind in all ages would make of their free will.
The language of this Article is guarded and cautious. It makes no mention of the doctrine of reprobation. It declares predestination to life to be the everlasting purpose of God, Whose will is that all should be saved. God has decreed from before the foundation of the world that, through the atonement made by Christ, everlasting life should be freely offered to all mankind. The Article does not touch the case of the heathen, but goes on to describe the manner in which those who have been brought into a “state of salvation,” and who live in accordance with their Christian calling, are carried on by God’s grace from their baptism to the possession of everlasting salvation.
1. They are called according to God’s purpose. See Rom. 8:30, “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called.”
2. They through grace obey the calling. 1 Cor. 15:10, “By the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
3. They are justified freely. Rom. 8:30, “Whom he called, them he also justified”; Rom. 3:24, “Justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
4. They are made the sons of God by adoption. Cf. Gal 4:4, 5, “God sent forth his Son ... that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
5. They are made like the image of Jesus Christ. Cf. Romans 8:29, “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.”
6. They walk religiously in good works. Cf. Eph. 2:10, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works; which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
7. They at length by God’s mercy attain to everlasting felicity. Cf. Matt. 20:23, “To sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father;” Matt. 24:13, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved;” Rev. 2:10, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
This Article does not attempt to solve the problem how to reconcile God’s foreknowledge with man’s free will. It rather sets bounds to curious speculation on the subject. God alone knows who will ultimately be saved. As far as men are concerned all who are baptized into Christ are thereby elect, and the fact of their election is the pledge of their receiving a sufficiency of Divine grace to enable them to work out their salvation. This consideration is full of comfort to those who are conscientiously using that grace. The Calvinistic doctrine of reprobation, on the other hand, is dangerous as ignoring man’s free will altogether, and tending to immorality.
With regard to the salvation of those who have not been brought within the scope of the gospel, we are not called upon to judge. Those who have sinned without law shall be judged without law. Many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, while the children of the kingdom shall be cast out. The promises of God in Holy Scripture are to be understood as applying, not to a favoured few, but to mankind in general (generaliter). We are not to inquire whether there are few that shall be saved, but to strive ourselves to enter in at the strait gate.
Of Obtaining Eternal Salvation Only by the Name of Christ.
They also are to be had accursed that presume to say that every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
De speranda aeterna salute tantum in nomine Christi.
Sunt et illi anathematizandi, qui dicere audent unumquemque in lege aut secta quam profitetur esse servandum, modo juxta illam et lumen naturae accurate vixerit, cum sacrae literae tantum Jesu Christi nomen praedicent, in quo salvos fieri homines oporteat.
The principle condemned in this Article was first asserted by certain apologists for heathenism in the fourth century after the establishment of Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire. It is likewise found in the Quoran. Its modern form is the latitudinarian view that there is nothing certain in religion, that one view or one form of worship is as good as another, and that if a person’s morals be good it matters little what he believes. It is the spirit which breathes in the lines of Pope–
“For creeds and forms let senseless bigots fight;
He can’t be wrong whose life is in the right.”
This Article asserts that for a man to obtain eternal salvation it is not enough for him to follow his own natural conscience. Eternal salvation is the free gift of God to man in Christ, and for His merits alone. It is true that the efficacy of His death may extend to even those who have never heard of His name. St. Paul says (Rom. 2:14), “When Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.” Still, those that are saved are saved, not by the law that they profess, but for Christ’s merits. The case of those who have never heard the gospel is very different from the case of those who willfully reject the gospel. There are not two ways to heaven appointed by God. For sinful man there is but one only means of salvation, the cross of Jesus Christ. Compare the texts, Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”; John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”; 1 Tim. 2:5, “There is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all”; Gal. 1:8, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed”; Prov. 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof arc the ways of death.”
The Article says that those who presume to call in question the doctrine of salvation in Christ alone are to be accursed (Latin, “anathematizandi sunt”), i.e. to be debarred from the privileges of the Church, or excommunicated, 60 long as they persist in their error.
Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.
Ecclesia Christi visibilis est coetus fidelium, in quo verbum Dei purum praedicatur, et sacramenta, quoad ea quae necessario exigantur, juxta Christi institutum recte administrantur. Sicut erravit Ecclesia Hierosolymitana, Alexandrina, et Antiochena; ita et erravit Ecclesia Romana, non solum quoad agenda, et caeremoniarum ritus, verum in his etiam quae credenda sunt.
The Christian Church is that society which our blessed Lord founded when on earth with a view to the salvation of men, through the ministry of the Word and Sacraments. Unlike the Jewish Church, which was confined to a single nation, destined to pass away, and possessed only of an imperfect revelation in types and shadows, the Church of Christ was destined to embrace all nations, to last for all time, and to possess all truth. It is therefore called the Holy Catholic Church.
The era of the Church of Christ is the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost descended from heaven upon the whole body of disciples gathered together under a single roof. Upon the same day three thousand souls were added to the Church upon the preaching of St. Peter, and thus was fulfilled our Lord’s promise, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church” (Matt. 16:18); “And the Lord added to the Church daily those that “should be saved” (Acts 2:47).
The Church of Christ is essentially sacramental. Founded by Christ Himself, it is to its faithful members the vehicle of inward and spiritual graces which flow to them through its outward and visible channels of Divine appointment. In other words, it has an inward and spiritual constitution as well as an outward and visible constitution.
It is of the outward and visible constitution of the Church of which this Article treats. The Church is described as “coetus fidelium,” “a congregation of faithful men”; the word “faithful” being here app1ied to the profession of its members, and not necessarily to their personal character. All Christians are by profession fideles, just as St. Paul speaks of the whole body of Christians in a particular place as “elect,” “saints,” “called to be saints,” though he rebukes sharply the lives of many of them.
The Article enumerates two essential marks as necessary to the constitution of the Christian Church–
(1) The preaching of the pure Word of God;
(2) The due administration of the sacraments according to the ordinance of Christ.
To which must be added, as necessarily implied in the foregoing–
(3) A permanent provision for the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
In the Acts of the Apostles the infant Church is described as consisting of those that received the Word and were baptized, and as continuing steadfastly in the Apostle’s teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread (that is, in the Holy Eucharist), and the prayers (Acts 2:42).
Later on we find the Apostles making a regular provision for the propagation of the faith, and the administration of the sacraments, after they themselves should have died. In the Acts and in the Epistles we find the gradual development of the three orders of ministry for this purpose. First the order of deacons was appointed in the first place to distribute alms (Acts 6:3), but afterwards empowered to preach and to baptize (Acts 8:26, etc.); afterwards we find the Apostles ordaining a second order of men, with powers inferior to their own, called at first indifferently presbyters or bishops (πρεσβύτεροι or επίσκοποι, Titus 1:5, 7, etc.); and finally appointing a still higher order, to take up the reins of government as they fell from their own hands, such as Timothy at Ephesus, Titus at Crete, the angels of the seven Churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation, and possibly Archippus at Colosse.
This threefold order, known from early days under the titles of bishops, priests, and deacons, has always been considered a necessary feature in the outward constitution of the visible Church; as Ignatius writes (Ep. ad Trail., § 3), “Without these (i.e. bishops,. presbyters, and deacons) there can be no Church properly so called.”
The visible Church on earth contains both good and evil members, as is shown by the parables of the tares and the wheat, and of the drag net. All who have been baptized are members of the visible Church. Those who have not been baptized are not members. There is also an invisible Church, comprising the Holy Angels and the faithful departed of all ages (see Heb. 12:22, 23).
The word Church is from the Greek κυριακη sc. οικία, the Lord’s house or household. In the former part of this Article the word is used generally of the Church Catholic, i.e. the entire body of Christians throughout the world. In the latter part it is used, in a more restricted and local sense, of particular branches of the Catholic Church.
The latter paragraph of the Article is probably directed against the preposterous claim to infallibility put forth by the Church of Rome, and supposed to be grounded on the words of our Lord to St. Peter in Matt. 16:18. The Article practically says that no particular Church can lay an exclusive claim to infallibility, and that in point of fact, not only the Church of Rome, but other of the great branches of the Church, had actually fallen into error.
It is not necessary to inquire what, if any, particular errors of these Churches the Article had in view.
Of the Authority of the Church.
The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies and authority in controversies of Faith: And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.
De Ecclesiae auctoritate.
Habet Ecclesia ritus sive caeremonias statuendi jus, et in fidei controversiis auctoritatem; quamvis Ecclesiae non licet quicquam instituere, quod verbo Dei scripto adversetur, nec unum Scripturae locum sic exponere potest, ut alteri contradicat. Quare licet Ecclesia sit divinorum librorum testis et conservatrix, attamen ut adversus eos nihil decernere, ita praeter illos nihil credendum de necessitate salutis debet obtrudere.
The first clause of this Article, “The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith,” is not found in the Articles of 1552, or in the original draft of the Articles of Elizabeth’s reign (1562) as signed by both houses of convocation. The addition was made, however, before the royal assent was given, and appears in most of the early printed copies of the Article.
This Article declares that the Church has (1) power to decree rites and ceremonies, (2) authority in controversies of faith, and then proceeds to define the limitations within which this power and authority must be exercised; viz. (1) it must not ordain or decree anything contrary to God’s Word; nor (2) expound one place of Scripture so that it be repugnant to another; nor (3) enforce anything besides the Scriptures to be believed as necessary to salvation.
With regard to rites and ceremonies, St. Paul lays down the general rule that all things must be “done unto edifying” (1 Cor. 14:26); and again, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40) This implies, therefore, the existence of certain established rules and principles for the regulation of the public worship of the Church. To be binding and authoritative, these must be laid down by the Church itself; or by its rulers, though particular Churches may have their own rites and ceremonies (see Art. XXXIV) with regard to matters of particular concern. St. Paul gives directions on many points in his Epistles to various Churches, and in his pastoral Epistles he gives Timothy and Titus, the chief rulers of the Churches in Ephesus and Crete respectively, particular instruction on various points of Church government, and enjoins the latter “to set in order the things that were wanting” (Titus 1:5), etc. Compare, also, Heb. 13:17, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.”
Controversies of faith, unlike matters of ceremony, are of vital and universal import, and cannot, therefore, be settled by anyone particular Church, but must be decided by the voice of the Church Universal. It is this Church Universal which the Article declares to be the witness and keeper of Holy Writ. To her are committed the “oracles of God”. The “Church of the Living God” is the “pillar and ground ·of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Holy Scripture, then, being (see Art. VI) the embodiment of revealed truth, controversies of Faith arise when Holy Scripture is diversely interpreted. The Church is the witness to the authenticity of the various books of the Bible which we receive as Canonical on her authority; that is, because they have been generally received by the Church at large (see Art. VI). She also by her collective voice (as, for example, in the ancient creeds of universal acceptance) bears witness to the sense in which Holy Scripture has been understood from the beginning. She is also the keeper of Holy Writ, which, by constant public use, she has kept free from all material corruptions.
The Church, therefore, is the interpreter to whose authority, as far as it can be ascertained, private judgment must bow. How far, then, is this voice of the Church Universal now ascertainable? If a strictly OEcumenical council – that is, a council fairly representing every branch of the Church – could be gathered together, its decisions would have the greatest possible weight. As this is, under present circumstances, apparently impossible, on any doubtful points we must fall back on the teaching of the Primitive Church, as represented in the creeds of the early Church, the decisions of the first four general councils, and generally upon the belief and practice of the earliest ages nearest to the sources of inspiration.
Thus the Church of England, making Holy Scripture its rule of faith (interpreted, when open to doubtful construction, by the voice of the universal Church as far as ascertainable), asserts that nothing may be decreed against Holy Scripture, or beside the same be enforced as necessary to salvation. The Church of Rome, on the other hand, makes “tradition” of coordinate authority with Holy Scripture, and has enforced, besides the same, many things to be believed as necessary to salvation, as the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin, published in 1854 S4t and the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope, published in 1870, and may now continue to add to the faith whatever dogma the Pope, speaking ex cathedra, may venture to pronounce.
Compare with this Article the notes on Art. VI.
Of the Authority of General Councils.
General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.
De auctoritate Conciliorum Generalium.
Generalia Concilia sine jussu et voluntate Principum congregari non possunt; et ubi convenerint, quia ex hominibus constant, qui non omnes spiritu et verbo Dei reguntur, et errare possunt, et interdum errarunt etiam in his quae ad Deum pertinent; ideoque quae ab illis constituuntur, ut ad salutem necessaria, neque robur habent, neque auctoritatem, nisi ostendi possint e sacris literis esse desumpta.
General or OEcumenical Councils are councils consisting of representatives of all branches of the Catholic Church. They are called “general” to distinguish them from national, provincial, or diocesan councils, usually called Synods.
The assertion that general councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of princes is based upon the theoretical and ideal relation of Church and State in a Christian community, every member of such community being considered as a part of both. In such a state of things a civil governor would be the natural person to authorize the assembling of such a council and to control its proceedings. The Scripture warrant is that of St. Paul in Rom. 13:1, etc. : “Let every soul be subject to the higher power, for there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God.”
In the Jewish polity the supreme authority was vested in Moses as the representative of the civil power (see Numb. 11:16, etc.). In later times King Asa gathered together Judah and Benjamin to put away idolatry and to restore the true service of God (2 Chron. 25). King Hezekiah gathered the Priests and Levites together and exhorted them to cleanse the house of the Lord, and to restore the true service of God (2 Chron. 29). King Josiah sent to gather together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem for the repair of the temple and the putting down of idolatry (2 Chron. 34).
In the early days of the Christian Church general councils were summoned by the emperors of the East, because their dominion was nearly coextensive with Christendom.
Four (or at the most six) general councils have received the general adhesion of Christendom, not taking into account the Council of Jerusalem, mentioned in Acts 15, which differed from all subsequent councils in the fact that its members were all inspired persons.
The four general councils as generally recognized are:–
1. The Council of Nice or Nicaea in Bithynia, summoned A.D. 325, by the Emperor Constantine, which condemned the heresy of Arius, who denied that Christ was truly God, of one substance with the Father.
2. The Council of Constantinople, summoned A.D. 381, by the Emperor Theodosius, which condemned the heresy of Macedonius, who denied the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. It confirmed the Nicene Creed. (See notes on Art. VIII.)
3. The Council of Ephesus, summoned A.D. 431, by the Emperor Theodosius the younger, condemned the heresy of Nestorius, who asserted that there were two Persons in Christ.
4. The Council of Chalcedon, summoned A.D. 451, by the Emperor Marcian, condemned the opposite error of Eutyches, who asserted that Christ had but one nature. This council maintained that the two natures of Christ, though united in one Person, were perfectly distinct.
What are sometimes called the Fifth and Sixth General Councils were both held at Constantinople in A.D. 553 and A.D. 680, against developments of Nestorianism and Eutychianism.
In after days the Romish Church, ignoring the Apostolic precept and the practice of the Church, claimed the right of summoning so-called OEcumenical councils, on the theory of the supremacy of the Roman See.
This Article, whilst not disputing the great weight and authority of general councils rightly so called, asserts the superior authority of Holy Scripture. General councils are fallible, and at the best only represent approximately the voice of Christendom. Their decisions on matters of faith are valuable as attesting the manner in which Holy Scripture has been understood from the beginning, but they have no power to frame any new doctrine.
As to the fact that general councils, or councils claiming to be general, have erred, the Council of Ariminium (or Rimini), A.D. 360, may be cited, which adopted the heresy of Arius. Of this council Jerome says, “The whole world groaned to find itself Arian.” The Second Nicene Council, A. D. 787, approved the worship of images. So-called general councils have reversed the decisions of previous general councils. The value of a council consists in its subsequent recognition by the Church at large, on the ground that its decrees are in conformity with Holy Scripture.
The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, worshipping and adoration, as well of images as of reliques, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God.
Doctrina Romanensium de purgatorio, de indulgentiis, de veneratione, et adoratione, tum imaginum tum reliquiarum nec non de invocatione sanctorum, res est futilis, inaniter conficta, et nullis Scripturarum testimoniis innititur: immo verbo Dei contradicit.
Although the title of this Article mentions purgatory only, there are really four Romish doctrines condemned by this Article.
I. The Romish doctrine of purgatory.
II. The Romish doctrine of pardons on indulgences.
III. The Romish doctrine of worshipping and adoration as well of images as of relics.
IV. The Romish doctrine of invocation of saints.
I. The Romish doctrine of purgatory is thus authoritatively defined by the Council of Trent:–
“If anyone saith that after the gift of justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world or the next in purgatory before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven tan be opened to him, let him be anathema.”
In other words, every man is subject both to temporal and eternal punishment for sin; and though God does remit eternal punishment for Christ’s merits, yet the sinner is still liable to temporal punishment, which may be partially expiated by voluntary acts of penance in this life, partly by purgatorial fires in the interval between a man’s death and the day of judgment. The time of purgatory, according to the Romish Church, may be shortened by the prayers of the faithful, by masses for the dead, or by the supererogatory works of the saints.
In support of this doctrine the Romanists bring forward two passages from Scripture on which they mainly rely. The first from 2 Macc. 12:42–45, which speaks of a reconciliation made “for the dead that they might be delivered from sm.” As to which we observe that the Maccabees is one of the Apocryphal books, which the Church “doth not apply to establish any doctrine.” At the best, therefore, this passage would only show that the Jews of the Maccabean period believed in remission of sins after death, but not that their tradition was a true one.
The other passage is from the New Testament, viz. 1 Cor. 3:11–15. St. Paul says, “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work shall abide which he hath built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
But here it is to be observed that the fire spoken of is that of “the day,” that is, according to the general usage of this expression in the Apostle’s writings, the great day of judgment. The fire of purgatory is supposed, however (on the Roman theory), to precede that day. St. Paul is really speaking of true and false teachers, the one erecting on the true foundation a superstructure of gold, silver, precious stones – that is, training up real and genuine converts; the others a superstructure of wood, hay, stubble – that is; of unsound and counterfeit material The flaming fire in which the Lord will be revealed (2 Thess. 1:8) will consume the unfaithful Christians, whilst the teacher to whose want of vigilance the destruction of men’s souls is due will, if he escape at all, escape himself as a brand from the burning. His building will be consumed.
We have here no trace of the Romish doctrine of purgatory.
On the other hand the teaching of Holy Scripture, with regard to the faithful departed is: that they are with Christ in paradise (Luke 23:43), in a state of blessed rest (Rev. 14:13), not of blank unconsciousness (see Luke 16:25), but of intimate communion with Christ (2 Cor. 5:6), and that their condition is “far better” (Phil. 1:23) than when they were on earth.
And we may reasonably believe that the state in which they are is a state of purification, in the sense of ·progress in the knowledge of Christ and preparation for heaven – and if so, it would be to the detriment of departed souls to take them out of purgatory before their time. St. Paul declared that though to him to live was Christ, yet to die was gain (Phil. 1:21), which could not be truly said unless his soul was to be in conscious and increasing communion with Christ after death.
II. The Romish doctrine of pardons, or indulgences is that “the Roman Pontiff may, for reasonable causes, by his Apostolical authority, grant indulgences out of the superabundant merits of Christ and the saints, whereby all persons, whether living or dead, are delivered from so much temporal punishment, due according to Divine justice for their actual sins, as is equivalent to the value of the indulgences bestowed and received.”
This doctrine depends on two others which have been shown to be false, viz. the Romish doctrine of purgatory and the Romish doctrine of a treasury of merits (see on Art. XIV). Thus it is a fond thing vainly invented, as well as being, as has already been shown, repugnant to the Word of God. It is true that the early Church exercised the power of inflicting temporal punishments on notorious sinners, by putting them to open penance in this world, and that the authority which indicted these ecclesiastical censures could mitigate or remove them – such relaxations of the original sentence being termed indulgences. This power was given at the Council of Nice. But this in no way sanctions the Romish doctrine of indulgences, which is almost entirely concerned with God’s chastisement of sin in the intermediate state, and applies not to cases like that of the incestuous Corinthian (1 Cor. 5; 2 Cor. 2:6–8) which the Romanists quote in illustration, but to such a case as that of the rich man in the parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:23). (See Dr. Littledale’s “Plain Reasons against joining the Church of Rome,” § xl)
The extravagance to which the doctrine of indulgences was carried by the Popes, and the sale of them by Tetzel in the sixteenth century, was one of the more immediate causes of the Reformation.
III. The Romish doctrine of worshipping and adoration of images is next condemned.
Images appear to have been first introduced into churches in the fifth century. They were at first designed to honour the memory of departed saints. Their introduction leading to great abuse, the use of images was condemned at a Council of Constantinople, A.D. 754. Hence followed the Iconoclast controversy which had the effect of widening the breach between the Eastern and Western Churches.
The use of images was defended on the ground that they are simply a means·of bringing the object of worship more vividly before the worshipper, and that they are thus a help to devotion. The objection raised to them was that the multitude cannot discriminate, and that practically their introduction had given rise to idolatry, which is condemned in the Second Commandment (Exod. 20:4, 5).
At the time of the Reformation a cultus of images had practically grown up, which even prevails in the Romish Church at the present day, certain special images of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and other saints being supposed to possess exceptional efficacy; as, for instance, the Bambino, or image of the Infant Saviour, in the Church of the Ara Coeli at Rome; the Rival Virgins, One black and one white, in the Cathedral at Chartres, with their separate confraternities; to say nothing of “Our Lady of Lourdes” and “Our Lady of La Salette.”
For a scriptural condemnation of image worship. see Exod. 20:4, 5; Deut. 27:15, 2 Kings 17:4, Isa. 42:8, Hab. 2:19, John 4:24, I John 5:21, etc. The brazen serpent which was set up by Moses in the wilderness, and was a type of Christ, was destroyed by Hezekiah when the people began to worship it. It is probable also that the golden calves made by Aaron and Jeroboam were intended only to symbolize the true God, though they became in reality direct objects of worship.
The Romish doctrine of the worshipping and adoration of relics is equally opposed to reason and to Holy Scripture. By relics are meant the remains of departed saints, as their bodies or parts of their bodies, bones, hair, clothing, or instruments of torture by which they suffered. In the early days of Christianity the remains of the martyrs were naturally treated with great respect. In the fourth century miraculous powers began to be attributed to them. In after times the fabrication of relics proved a fruitful source of imposture.
The Romanists support their case by the argument of the miracle wrought by the bones of Elisha (2 Kings 13:21); but it does not appear that the bones of Elisha were worshipped in consequence. Also by the account of the miracles wrought by the handkerchiefs and aprons brought to the sick from the body of St. Paul (Acts 19:11, 12); but we do not read that these were preserved, much less that they were worshipped. On the other hand, we read that “devout men carried Stephen” (the first martyr) “to his burial” (Acts 8:2), but not that his relics were preserved, or worshipped, or endued with any miraculous power.
IV. The last Romish doctrine condemned by this Article is that of the “invocation of saints”.
The doctrine is this: “That the saints who reign together with Christ offer up their own prayers to God for men, and that it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them, and to have recourse to their prayers, aid, and help, for obtaining benefits from God through His Son Jesus Christ.”
Now, even granting (1) that some of the saints are already reigning with Christ, and (2) that the departed saints can hear and join in the prayers of the faithful upon earth, there is not a shadow of scriptural authority for addressing them in prayer. It is true that the Romanists defend the practice by the assertion that the saints are only invoked to pray for us, and not prayed to themselves. That to invoke the saints is simply “prier pour prier,” i.e. to ask the prayers of the holy dead, as we ask the prayers of the living. Yet even such invocation is wholly unauthorized, and even opposed to Holy Scripture, for St. Paul plainly says (1 Tim. 2:5), “There is one “mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” We have only four examples in the New Testament of acts of reverence being paid to saints, which were in all cases promptly rejected; viz. when Cornelius fell at St. Peter’s feet and worshipped him (Acts 10:25, 26); when the Priest of Jupiter would have done sacrifice to the Apostles Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:13–15); when St. John twice fell at the feet of the angel (Rev. 19:10; 22:8, 9). Further, as we cannot suppose that Cornelius intended to do Divine homage to St. Peter, or St. John to the angel, secondary worship is condemned in both these cases. (“Plain Reasons,” etc., § 12.)
But though the Church of Rome professes to draw a distinction between the invocation of saints and the prayers offered to God, practically the petitions in the services and manuals of devotion in common use are exactly of the same kind and words as those addressed to Almighty God Such as “Mary, Mother of Grace, Mother of Mercy, shield us from the enemy, and receive us at the hour of death” (Rit. Rom. de Visitatione Infirmorum); “Mary is our only refuge, help, and asylum” (Liguori’s “Stories of Mary”); “Benign Joseph, our guide, protect us and the Holy Church” (The “Raccolta,” Engl. tr., 1873); etc..
Such petitions as these, which abound in authorized devotional books, are in direct contradiction to the express words of the Almighty, “I am the Lord: that is my Name: and my glory will I not give to another” (Isa. 42:8).
Of Ministering in the Congregation.
It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.
De ministrando in Ecclesia.
Non licet cuiquam sumere sibi munus publice praedicandi, aut administrandi Sacramenta in Ecclesia, nisi prius fuerit ad haec obeunda legitime vocatus et missus. Atque illos legitime vocatos et missos existimare debemus, qui per homines, quibus potestas vocandi ministros, atque mittendi in vineam Domini, publice concessa est in Ecclesia, cooptati fuerint, et adsciti in hoc opus.
This Article contains two propositions:–
1. That Christian ministers must not be self-appointed.
2. That they must be appointed by those who have authority for the purpose.
1. The first proposition is obvious, depending on the fundamental precept, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Without such a principle there would be as much disorder in the Church as there would be in a State in which every one might take upon himself at pleasure the office of magistrate or judge. In the Old Testament we have various examples of men who were signally punished for unwarrantably assuming sacred functions, as Korah and his company (Numb. 16); Saul (1 Sam. 13); Uzziah (2 Chron. 26:16, etc.). And in the New Testament we find the same principle, as Heb. 5:4, 5, “No man taketh this honour unto himself but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest.” Just as in secular matters no man, however well qualified, can exercise the office of a judge until he has received a commission from the head of the State, so no one can properly exercise the office of a Christian minister unless he has received a Divine commission from the Head of the Church.
2. The second proposition is that the ministers of the Christian Church must be chosen and called by men who have public authority given them to call and send them.
Who, then, are the persons invested with this authority? It is clear that, before we can be satisfied on this point, we must trace back this authority to its original source.
Even Christ, we read, “glorified not himself to be made an high priest,” or Spiritual Head of His Church. He was sent by the Father, and upon His Ascension He was made Head over all things to the Church. And our Lord sent His Apostles by the same Divine authority by which He Himself was sent. He said to them (John 20:21), “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you,” i.e. with the same power and authority to send others. This is clear from the words which He addressed to them just before His Ascension. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore,” etc.; adding, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:8–20); that is, with the Apostles and with those who should succeed them in legitimate spiritual descent after their own departure from the earth.
With this promise we find the Apostles gradually making a regular provision for a succession of the Christian ministry. In the New Testament itself we find indications of a threefold order of ministers in the Christian Church, just as in the Jewish Church there was a threefold ministry of High Priest, Priests, and Levites. And the history of the early Church shows that this threefold ministry was regarded as an essential part of its constitution. On this point see what has been said on Art. XIX. The eighteenth Canon of the Council of Nice (325 A.D.) runs, “Let the deacons keep within their proper bounds, knowing that they are the ministers of the Bishops and inferior to the Presbyters.” And Hooker sums up the practice of the Church upon this point down to his own time. “A thousand five hundred years and upwards, the Church of Christ hath now continued under the sacred regiment of Bishops. Neither for so long hath Christianity been ever planted in any kingdom throughout the world, but with this kind of Government alone; which to have been ordained of God, I am, for mine own part, even as resolutely persuaded as that any other kind of government in the world whatsoever is of God” (Hooker, “E. P.,” b. vii. § 1).
Thus those alone are lawfully called and sent to be ministers of the Church of Christ who can trace their spiritual descent back to the Apostles of our Lord through their successors the Bishops.
Of Speaking in the Congregation in such a Tongue as the People Understandeth.
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the Primitive Church, to have public prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments in a tongue not understanded of the people.
De loquendo in Ecclesia lingua quam populus intelligit.
Lingua populo non intellecta, publicas in Ecclesia preces perangere aut Sacramenta administrare, verbo Dei, et primitivae Ecclesiae consuetudini plane repugnat.
This Article ran somewhat differently in the Articles of 1552, as follows: “It is most fit and most agreeable to the Word of God that nothing be read or rehearsed in the Congregation in a tongue not known unto the people; which St. Paul hath forbidden unless some be present to interpret.”
The Article was probably changed to its present form in order more distinctly to condemn the celebration of the Mass in Latin in the Roman Church.
The use of a tongue not understanded of the people in the public services of the Church is declared to be–
1. Plainly repugnant to the Word of God.
2. Contrary to the custom of the Primitive Church.
1. It is, in the first place, opposed to the Apostle’s general direction, “Let all things be done to edifying” (1 Cor. 14:26).
It is more expressly opposed to 1 Cor. 14:14–19, where the Apostle says, “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say [the] ‘Amen’ at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: yet in the Church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” In this passage the reference to the “giving of thanks” and to the “Amen” (τως ερει το αμην επι τη ση ευχαριστία) shows that the Apostle is speaking of the Holy Eucharist, and insisting on the necessity of its being celebrated in the vulgar tongue, that the people may know when and how to make the responses. It is, however, just the Holy Eucharist or Mass which the Roman Canon Law forbids being translated for public use into any other language.
2. The use of an unknown tongue in Public Worship is also at variance with the custom of the Primitive Church. All the early liturgies were composed in the vernacular tongue of those for whose use they were intended. Those of St James and St. Chrysostom in Greek, others· in Syriac or Coptic. The Greek words Kyrie Eleison, still retained in the Roman Missal, point to the conclusion that the Mass of the Roman Church was originally in Greek, and that its translation into Latin was probably made with the intention of obeying the Apostolic precept, when Greek began to fall into disuse in Rome, and the bulk of the Christian people began to speak Latin. The use of Latin as the vernacular gradually dropped out in Europe during the course of the ninth century in consequence of the subversion of the Roman Empire. Gregory VII in the eleventh century insisted on the use of the Latin Liturgy, in order to support the Papal pretensions. (See “Plain Reasons,” etc., § 34.)
Of the Sacraments.
Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s good will towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in Him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and extreme Unction, are not to be counted for sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same they have a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as St. Paul saith.
Sacramenta a Christo instituta, non tantum sunt notae professionis Christianorum, sed certa quaedam potius testimonia, et efficacia signa gratiae atque bonae in nos voluntatis Dei, per quae invisibiliter Ipse in nos operatur, nostramque fidem in se non solum excitat, verum etiam confirmat.
Duo a Christi, Domino nostro in Evangelio instituta sunt sacramenta, scilicet, Baptismus et Coena Domini.
Quinque illa vulgo norninata Sacramenta; scilicet, Confirmatio, poenitentia, ordo, matrimonium, et extrema unctio, pro sacramentis evangelicis habenda non sunt, ut quae partim a prava apostolorum imitatione profluxerunt, partim vitae status sunt in scripturis quidem probati, sed sacramentorurn eandem cum Baptismo et Coena Domini rationem non habentes, ut quae signum aliquod visibile, ceu caeremoniam a Deo institutam non habeant.
Sacramenta non in hoc instituta sunt a Christo, ut spectarentur aut circumferrentur; sed ut rite illis uteremur, et in his duntaxat, qui digne percipiunt, salutarem habent effectum: Qui vero indigne percipiunt, damnationem (ut inquit Paulus) sibi ipsis acquirunt.
The word Sacramentum originally meant a military oath of allegiance. In a Christian sense the word was applied to those rites by which the Christian is pledged to the service of Christ.
The Christian sacraments, are however at the same time much more than this. The Article defines sacraments to be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather (1) certain sure witnesses of grace and God’s good will; (2) effectual signs (efficacia signa) of grace and God’s good will; that is, means by which (per quae, sc. sacramenta) God works invisibly in us.
In other words, sacraments are (1) witnesses or signs of grace, (2) means of grace.
This definition of the Article is therefore in accordance with the definition of the Church Catechism, which declares a sacrament to be (1) an outward visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace; (2) a means whereby we receive the same inward and spiritual grace of which it is a sign.
Both the Article and the Catechism, therefore, assert that the sacraments not only signify something, but also convey what they signify.
The Church of England limits the term “Sacrament” to the two rites of which we can say for certain that they were expressly “ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel,” that is to say, Baptism, and the “Supper of the Lord”.
These two positive institutions of our Lord Himself are and must always be the chief rites of the Christian Church. No other institutions stand on the same level as these two. Their agreement with this Article’s definition of a Sacrament will be proved under Articles XXVII and XXVIII.
Accordingly the Article goes on to assert that those five commonly called sacraments are not to be counted for sacraments of the Gospel, both for other reasons, and because “they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God”
(1) The first of these five is Confirmation.
This ordinance has so far the nature of a sacrament that it has (1) an outward and visible sign, viz. the laying on of hands, and (2) an inward and spiritual grace, viz. the strengthening grace of God’s Holy Spirit. It may therefore be fitly called a Sacramental ordinance. But although sanctioned by Apostolic usage (Acts 8:14, 17; 19:1–6), and declared in Scripture to be one of the “first principles” and “foundations” of Christian doctrine (Heb. 6:1), and always practiced in the Church, it has yet not the like nature of a sacrament with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper according to the definition just laid down, in that it has no visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
(2) The next mentioned is Penance.
Penance (Latin, poenitentia) is in its simplest use synonymous with Repentance. At an early period of Church history it acquired a technical sense, viz. that of public discipline imposed by the Church on offending members. That the English Church recognizes the use of penance in some form is shown by the opening of the Commination service, which describes how in the Primitive Church such persons as stood convicted of notorious sin were at the beginning of Lent put to open penance, and punished in this world, that their souls might be saved in the day of the Lord, and expresses a wish that the said discipline might be restored. (Compare also Art. XXXIII.) In any case, however, penance has no outward sign or ceremony ordained of Christ, and therefore does not come within the Church’s definition of a sacrament.
As taught by the Church of Rome, penance is a “corrupt following of the Apostles.” The Church of Rome teaches that penance is a sacrament of remitting sins after baptism, consisting of three parts on the part of the penitent, viz. contrition, confession, and satisfaction, and one on the part of the priest, viz. absolution.
The Church of England, of course, admits the necessity of contrition for sin, in accordance with Holy Scripture; as Psal. 51:17, “The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise.” It rejects the spurious form of attrition which, according to the Roman Church, consists chiefly of sorrow proceeding from fear of punishment, and may be accepted in lieu of contrition provided it be crowned by the sacrament of penance.
The Roman Church teaches that sacramental confession to a priest is “necessary to salvation, jure divino”; and with regard to absolution, it says, “If anyone saith that the sacramental absolution of the priest is not a judicial act, but a bare ministry of pronouncing and declaring sins to be forgiven to him that confesses, let him be anathema.”
As to confession, the Church of England provides a form of “general confession” with which she commences her Morning and Evening Prayer, and exhorts intending communicants to “confess themselves to Almighty God.” Further, there are two exceptional cases in which she recommends private confession to a priest. The first case is that of an intending communicant who cannot quiet his own conscience. The second is that of a sick person who feels his conscience troubled with some weighty matter. “The Church of England, in exact conformity with the Word of God and the teaching and the practice of the Primitive Church, allows private confession instead of enforcing it, and recommends it only under certain prescribed circumstances and conditions, as a means of restoring health to a sick conscience, instead of treating the habit of confession as the state of health” (Bishop Wilberforce’s “Addresses to Ordination Candidates”, p. 114).
The Church of England nowhere sanctions, and here repudiates, the Romish doctrine that auricular confession to a priest is “necessary to salvation, jure divino”.
As to absolution, the Church of England admits that God “has given power and commandment to His ministers to declare and pronounce to His people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins,” and provides three forms of absolution in her services, viz. in the Morning and Evening Prayer, in the Communion Service, and the Service for the Visitation of the Sick; but the absolution so given is conditional and ministerial, and not, like that of the Church of Rome, judicial and arbitrary. The sentence is conditional, not absolute, and only effective where the conditions are fulfilled, not from the mere opus operatum, nor to those who do not truly repent.
With regard to satisfaction, the Church of England admits the need of amendment of life, and restitution in case of injury inflicted on a fellow creature (see the Homily “Of Repentance”). It rejects the Roman doctrine that after the remission of sins there remains some penance to be undergone at the discretion of the priest, which may, however, be commuted for money and, if necessary, completed in purgatory.
(3) Orders is “a state of life allowed in Scripture,” but not of universal obligation. Though the Apostles were ordained by Christ with power to ordain others, yet we read of no particular form of ordination being prescribed by our Lord. The Church of Rome recognizes a number of inferior orders which the Church of England does not acknowledge. (See further on the subject of Holy Ordes in the Church of England, under Art. XXXVI.)
(4) Matrimony, like orders, is a state of life allowed in Scripture but not of universal obligation. The Church of Rome counts matrimony as a sacrament, chiefly on account of the Vulgate rendering of Eph. 5:32; where, speaking of marriage, St. Paul says, μυστήριον τουτο μέγα εστίν, the Vulgate rendering of which is “Hoc est magnum sacramentum.” St. Paul is, however, applying the term μυστήριον not to marriage, but rather to the mystical union between Christ and His Church, of which matrimony is a figure. Matrimony, though “an honourable estate instituted by God in the time of man’s innocency,” has no visible sign or ceremony ordained of God, and therefore is not counted for a sacrament of the gospel It is, however, distinctly a religious rite, and should be performed by God’s ordained minister.
(5) Extreme Unction, as taught and practiced by the Roman Church, has arisen out of a corrupt following of the Apostles. It claims to be founded on two passages of the New Testament: (1) Mark 6:13, “And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them;” (2) James 5:14, 15, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the Church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” These passages have reference to the extraordinary spiritual gifts vouchsafed to the Apostles and their immediate successors, and are not intended to enjoin the practice as a permanent one. In the cases referred to unction was accompanied by prayer, and in the joint use of the two the sick were permitted to look for temporal and spiritual blessings. The Greek Church uses unction, both with a view to the recovery of the sick and forgiveness of sins. The first Prayer Book of Edward VI. permitted the anointing of the sick man if he should desire it. The Church of Rome has, however, invented an entirely new rite, that of extreme unction, which is used, not to heal the sick, but when all hope of recovery is gone. For this practice and its supposed sacramental efficiency there is no warrant in the passages of Scripture quoted in its support. The Office for the Visitation of the Sick in the Book of Common Prayer shows the true care of the Church of England for the sick and dying.
The last paragraph of this Article, condemning the carrying about, etc., of the sacraments, is directed against the procession of the Host and attendant ceremonies in the Roman Church, for which there is no authority in Scripture, or in the custom of the primitive Church. The latter part of the paragraph, “In such only as worthily receive them,” etc., is intended as a caution against the erroneous teaching of the Church of Rome that the opus operatum that is, the mechanical act of receiving the Holy Communion, conveys grace, irrespective of the faith of the recipient. This Article declares that in such only as receive the sacraments worthily have they a wholesome effect and operation. Art. XXIX enlarges further on this point (see the notes on that Article). The text of St. Paul referred to is 1 Cor. 11:29, 30, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to himself not discerning the Lord’s body: For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” That is, the profane recipient, as many of the Corinthian converts had become, incurs severe judgment, and provokes God to visit him with bodily infirmity and even death. Compare the language of the longer exhortation to intending communicants in the Church of England’s Communion Service.
Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not
the effect of the Sacrament.
Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by His commission and authority, we may use their ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving of the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God’s gifts diminished from such as by faith and rightly do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ’s institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church, that inquiry be made of evil Ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.
De vi Institutionum Divinarum, quod eam non tollat nialitia Ministrorum.
Quamvis in ecclesia visibili, bonis mali semper sunt admixti, atque interdum ministerio verbi et sacramentorum praesint, tamen cum non suo, sed Christi nomine agant, ejusque mandato et auctoritate ministrent, illorum ministerio uti licet, cum in verbo Dei audiendo, tum in sacramentis percipiendis. Neque per illorum malitiam effectus institutorum Christi tollitur, aut gratia donorum Dei minuitur, quoad eos qui fide et rite sibi oblata percipiunt, quae propter institutionem Christi et promissionem efficacia sunt, licet per malos administrentur.
Ad Ecclesiae tamen disciplinam pertinet, ut in malos ministros inquiratur, accusenturque ab his, qui eorum flagitia noverint, atque tandem justo convicti judicio deponantur.
It has already been said (see on Art. XIX) that the visible Church comprises all those who have been rightly baptized, and though all these are by calling and profession “faithful men,” yet that the lives of many are in direct opposition to their calling and profession. The visible Church is like the net cast into the sea, and brought to land full of bad and good fish, or like a field in which wheat and tares are mingled together.
The same mixed character which prevails in the visible Church may be expected to prevail to a certain extent in the Christian ministry. It is inevitable that sometimes evil men should be found in the ranks of the clergy.
For the principle that the unworthiness of ministers hinders not the effect of the sacraments ministered by them, we may quote our Lord’s direction (Matt 23:2, 3) with regard to the obedience to be paid to the scribes and Pharisees because they sat in Moses’ seat, though their works were not to be followed. Compare also St. Paul’s words, 1 Cor. 3:7, “Neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” A Judas was found even in the ranks of the Apostles (cf. John 6:70).
The error directly condemned by this Article was originated by the Donatists in the fifth century. It is also opposed to the doctrine of Intention, peculiar to the Church of Rome, and decreed by the Council of Trent, according to which it is necessary that the Bishop or Priest who performs any religious ceremony should inwardly mean to do what the Church intends to be done in and by that ceremony. If the minister withhold this inward assent, the act is null and void and confers no grace. It is obvious that this doctrine attaches the greatest uncertainty to all Roman sacraments even on the showing of the Romanists themselves. If this doctrine be true, none can be sure that he has been baptized, confirmed, absolved, or received the Holy Communion, or that any minister of the Church has been validly consecrated.
The last paragraph of the Article is self-evident. In the Old Testament, Eli was threatened with punishment for not reproving the misconduct of his sons (2 Sam. 3:11); Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, were punished for offering strange fire (Lev. 10:2); and in the New Testament, Timothy is charged by St. Paul to enforce discipline amongst the clergy (1 Tim. 5:19, 20).
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or new Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
Baptismus non est tantum professionis, signum, ac discriminis nota, qua Chriatiani a non Christianis discernantur, sed etiam est signum regenerationis, per quod, tanquam per instrumentum, recte Baptismum suscipientes, ecclesiae inseruntur, promissiones de remissione peccatorum, atque adoptione nostra in filios Dei per Spiritum sanctum visibiliter obsignantur, fides confirmatur, et vi divinae invocationis gratia augetur.
Baptismus parvulorum omnino in Ecclesia retinendus est, ut qui cum Christi institutione optime congruat.
This and the following Article must be read in close connection with Art. XXV. Sacraments are there “described as being not only badges and tokens but efficacia signa gratiae; that is, both signs of grace conferred and vehicles of grace.
Accordingly, in this Article, Baptism is first described as “a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened.”
It is said to be “discriminis nota,” a mark of difference or separation. That is, it draws a broad line between Christians and non-Christians. Those who have received Baptism rightly – that is, who have been baptized with water and in the name of the Holy Trinity – are ipso facto Christians. Those who have not been baptized rightly are what the Article calls “non-Christians” (Latin “nota a qua Christiani a non Christianis discernantur”); that is, they are outside of the visible body which constitutes Christ’s visible Church on earth, and no amount of professed faith or personal holiness will make them technically Christians.
That Baptism is this, is clear from the words of institution in Matt. 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach” (or make disciples of) “all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” (Greek, μαθητεύσατε ... βαπτίζοντες). By Baptism men were to be admitted into the number of the μαθηταί. Compare Acts 2:41, “They that gladly received his word” (sc. St Peter’s, on the Day of Pentecost) “were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them” (that is, by Baptism) “about three thousand souls;” also verse 47, “The Lord added to·the Church daily such as should be saved.”
At the same time, Baptism is “not only” this, but much more. It is a sign of regeneration, or new birth, into the Church of Christ.
The word sign here must be explained by the context, by the use of the word in Art. XXV, and in the Church Catechism. Here it is said to be “a sign of regeneration, whereby, as by an instrument,” etc.; that is, an instrumental sign. In Art. XXV sacraments are said to be “efficaia signa”, that is, efficacious or instrumental signs which convey that of which they are tokens. In the Catechism a Sacrament is defined to be “an outward and visible sign of an inward spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ Himself; as a means whereby we receive the same” grace.
The word “sign,” therefore, is here used in the technical sense of a means of conveyance, like the sign-manual of a king which conveys a gift The outward and visible sign as truly, both in this and the other sacrament, conveys to us the inward spiritual grace, as the parchment deed, “signed, sealed, and delivered,” conveys property to the purchaser or heir. (See Norris’s “Rudiments of Theology,” pp. 116–120.)
Baptism, then, is an instrument of regeneration. In the Church Catechism the inward and spiritual grace conferred by this sacrament is defined as being, “A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness: for being by nature born in sin, and the children of wrath, we are hereby made the children of grace.”
The Baptismal Services of the Church of England teach no less unmistakably the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration. In the Office for the Public Baptism of Infants, before the Baptism of the child, the congregation prays as follows: “We call upon Thee for this infant, that he, coming to Thy Holy Baptism, may receive remission of sins by spiritual regeneration;” and again, “Give Thy Holy Spirit to this infant, that he may be born again, and be made an heir of everlasting salvation.”
Immediately after the Baptism the Priest is directed to say, “Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that this child is regenerate.” In the case of an infant who has been privately baptized, when he is publicly received into the Church the words are altered to, “Seeing ... that this child is by Baptism regenerate.”
For the scriptural authority for the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration compare our Lord’s words to Nicodemus, John 3:3, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”; explained further by verse 5, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Of which passage Hooker says (“E. P.” V. 59), “Of all ancient writers there is not one to be named who ever expounded this text otherwise than as implying external Baptism.” In Titus 3:5, Baptism is called “the washing” (or laver) “of regeneration” (λουτρον παλιγγενεσίας). That by Baptism, as by an instrument, men are grafted into the Church, is clear from the texts already quoted, and also from 1 Cor. 12:13, “By one Spirit were we all baptized into one body.” Here, as in other passages, the Holy Spirit is seen to be the efficient agent in bringing about the new birth.
Baptism is further declared in this Article to be the visible sign and seal of “forgiveness of sins, and our adoption to be sons of God by the Holy Ghost” With the former part of this statement may be compared the language of the Nicene Creed, “I believe in one Baptism for the remission of sins.” Amongst other texts which connect remission of sins with Baptism, may be quoted Acts 2:38, “Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost;” Acts 22:16, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Baptism transfers us from a state of wrath into a state of grace; from a state of alienation from God to a state of justification – that is, a state in which everlasting life is freely offered to sinful man for Christ’s merits on condition of repentance, faith, and obedience.
For the connection of Baptism with our adoption into the family of God, compare Gal 3:26, 27, “Ye are all the sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Further, “Faith is confirmed and grace increased by virtue of prayer to God,” or rather, by virtue of the invocation of the Divine name at Baptism. The Latin version is, “vi divinae invocationis;” that is, the faith, which is one of the necessary conditions of Baptism, though in itself weak and imperfect, and in the case of infants merely in the germ, is accepted in God’s name, at the same time that grace is given for the increase of faith. Our Lord couples faith and Baptism together in Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” and St. Paul connects faith and Baptism in Gal. 3:26, 27, above quoted. St. Paul, in the case of the Philippian jailor, makes belief in the Lord Jesus (Acts 16:31) a condition of Baptism (verse 33). So also St. Philip in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:36, 38). In both these cases St. Philip and St Paul did not wait till they could be sure of the reality and stability of the faith of their converts, but baptized them, believing that their new-born faith, which was necessarily imperfect, would be increased vi Divinae Invocationis.
That the Baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ may be inferred from the following leading considerations:–
(1) The general consideration that Christ died for all. 1 John 2:2, “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world;” 1 Cor. 15:22, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” We have no warrant to exclude little children from this universal redemption.
(2) The universality of Christ’s command in Matt 28:19, “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them.” There is no restriction or limitation here, so that those who object to Infant Baptism must make out their case from Holy Scripture for excluding young children from Baptism, which they cannot do.
(3) The analogy derived from the rite of circumcision, which was administered to children on the eighth day from birth. And if young children were admitted into the Jewish covenant, there is a strong a priori likelihood that they would be admitted into the higher and better Christian covenant.
(4) The words of our Blessed Lord with regard to little children on several occasions (Mark 9:37; Matt 18:10, 21:16), and especially “His outward gesture and deed” when He took them up in His arms, laid His hands upon them, and blessed them, and said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14).
(5) The fact that the Apostles baptized whole households, in which it is at least extremely probable that little children were included, e.g. the household of the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:33); of Lydia (16:15); of Stephanas (1 Cor. 1:16).
(6) The fact that in the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians the duties of children are alluded to as Christian duties founded on their Christian calling. Cf. Eph. 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in thee Lord: for this is right;” Col. 3:20, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing in the Lord.”
(7) The continuous practice of the Church from primitive times, her early Fathers alluding to it as the common usage of the Church derived from the practice of the Apostles.
Of the Lord’s Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean, whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
De Coena Domini.
Coena Domini non est tantum signum mutuae benevolentiae Christianorum inter sese, verum potius est sacramentum nostrae per mortem Christi redemptionis. Atque adeo, rite, digne et cum fide sumentibus, panis quem frangimus est communicatio corporis Christi; similiter poculum benedictionis est communicatio sanguinis Christi.
Panis et vini transubstantiatio in Eucharistia ex sacris literis probari non potest; sed apertis Scripturae verbis adversatur, sacramenti naturam evertit, et multarum superstitionum dedit occasionem.
Corpus Christi datur, accipitur et manducatur in Coena tantum coelesti et spirituali ratione. Medium autem, quo Corpus Christi accipitur et manducatur in Coena, fides est.
Sacramentum Eucharistiae ex institutione Christi non servabatur, circumferebatur, elevabatur, nee adorabatur.
This Article, like the last, must be read in conjunction with Art. XXV. Sacraments are both signs and means of grace. The Lord’s Supper is a Sacrament: therefore the Lord’s Supper is both a sign and means of grace. It conveys that which it signifies. So the Article begins by saying that the Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of love. This was the erroneous view of Zwingli and other Swiss Reformers, who held that this Sacrament was a mere sign of remembrance and act of love, eliminating all spiritual grace.
Condemning this error, the Article goes on to say the supper of the Lord is rather a Sacrament of our redemption by Christ’s death; and it explains this expression further by saying that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread and the cup of which they partake are to them the actual channels of communication of the Body and the Blood of Christ.
The language of the Article is in exact accordance with the account given in the New Testament of the institution of this Sacrament. “The Lord Jesus, in the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:23–26). See also Matt 26:26–28, Mark 14:22–24, Luke 22:19, 20, John 6:51–56, and 1 Cor. 10:16, 17.
Putting together the spiritual accounts of the institution of this Sacrament, we observe that our Lord performed two distinct acts with regard to the bread and the cup:–
(1) He took bread, and blessed it, and brake it; He took the cup, and gave thanks.
(2) He administered the bread and the cup to His disciples.
Corresponding with these two distinct acts He gave two commands:–
(1) Do this in remembrance of me” (τουτο ποι ειτε εις την εμην ανάμνησιν).
(2) “Take, eat.” “Drink ye all of this.”
And so this Sacrament is (1) a commemoration of Christ’s death; as St. Paul says, “Ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” (2) It is a communication of the Body and Blood of Christ, as St. Paul says (1 Cor. 10:16, 17), “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion” (marg. “participation in”) “of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ?” That is, this Sacrament is a means not merely of representing, but also of communicating the body and blood of Christ there represented and remembered to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same. This Sacrament does not make us partakers of Christ ex opere operato. A right disposition on the part of the communicant is necessary to his particular benefit (see Art. XXIX), but not to the virtue or excellence of the Sacrament.
Transubstantiation, condemned in this Article, is the Romish doctrine that in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper the bread and wine are “truly, really, and substantially” converted into the flesh and blood of Christ. The Catechism of the Council of Trent says that “because in the Sacrament of the Eucharist the whole substance of one thing passes into the whole substance of another, the word transubstantiation was rightly and wisely invented by our forefathers.” The doctrine of Transubstantiation was the result of an unhappy attempt to define the mode of the presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. This doctrine was first asserted by Paschase Radbert, a French Benedictine monk, in the ninth century. The doctrine was refuted at the time by several eminent writers, but was afterwards revived in the eleventh century, though it was not publicly decreed as a doctrine of the Church till the Fourth Lateran Council, A.D. 1215, the term “Transubstantiation” having been recently invented by Stephen, Bishop of Autun, and sanctioned by Innocent III. The Council of Constance, 1415 A. D., reasserted the Lateran doctrine against Wycliffe, and the Council of Trent further reasserted it, in 1551, against Luther and the German Reformers.
Thus, though the belief in the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper seems to have been universally entertained in the early ages of the Church, no attempt seems to have been made to define the manner in which that presence takes place. The Romish doctrine is a novelty finding no countenance in the teaching of the primitive Church or of Holy Scripture. Although Scripture speaks of the consecrated elements as the Flesh and Blood of Christ, there is no passage to show that they become so by transubstantiation. Our Lord calls the contents of the consecrated chalice the “fruit of the vine” (Matt. 26:29), and St. Paul speaks of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body as “bread” (1 Cor. 11:27, 28).
Further, this doctrine of transubstantiation “overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament,” because whereas a Sacrament consists of two parts, an outward and visible part and an inward and invisible part, the Roman view causes the former of these entirely to vanish, so as to become a mere illusion of the senses, and the “thing signified” to take the place of the thing signifying. The Zwinglian view, on the other hand, equally overthrows the nature of a Sacrament by ignoring the presence of the thing signified altogether, and making the Sacrament to consist of one part only, viz. the outward, visible, and material part.
Moreover, it is asserted that “Transubstantiation hath given rise to many superstitions.” By whatever arguments it may now be sought to explain away or modify the extreme literal view of transubstantiation, the multitude of persons cannot appreciate subtle distinctions (το διορίζειν ούκ εστι των πολλων). To an uninstructed multitude the language of the Roman Catechism suggests the idea of a carnal presence, and the adoration due to Christ is likely to be transferred to the material elements. And it is against this practical idolatry that the last paragraph of the Article is directed, which says that the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
It is true that in the early days of the Church a portion of the consecrated elements was “reserved,” and sent to the sick by the hands of a deacon. This was, however, a temporary expedient in days of persecution, and in any case not a part of Christ’s ordinance. In the Roman Church the Sacrament is invariably reserved. Our own Church expressly provides (see Rubric at the end of Communion Service) that if any of the consecrated elements remain, they shall not be carried out of the church, but be reverently eaten and drunk then and there. There is also a special provision made by the Church for the celebration of the Holy Communion in the houses of sick persons.
Besides the error of transubstantiation should be noticed another error, viz. the doctrine of “consubstantiation,” usually fathered upon Luther, who is supposed to have meant by it that “with the substance of bread and wine, there is a blending as it were of a spiritual substance.”
The Church of England does not attempt in any way to define the mode of Christ’s presence or operation in the Sacrament. The words of Hooker well express her caution and moderation:–
“What these elements are in themselves it skilleth not. It is enough that unto me which take them they are the Body and Blood of Christ. His promise in witness hereof sufficeth. His word He knoweth which way to accomplish. Why should any cogitation possess the soul of a faithful communicant but this: O my God, Thou art true: O my soul, thou art happy?”
The paragraph of this Article concerning the “mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the supper” is virtually repeated in the next Article, and is discussed in connection therewith.
Of the Wicked which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper.
The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as St. Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.
De manducatione Corporis Christi, et impios illud non manducare.
Impii, et fide viva destituti, licet carnaliter et visibiliter (ut Augustinum loquitur) corporis et sanguinis Christi Sacramentum dentibus premant, nullo tamen modo Christi participes efficiuntur.
Sed potius tantae rei Sacramentum, seu symbolum, ad judicium sibi manducant et bibunt.
The last Article declared that the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Lord’s Supper is faith. Not, indeed, that the presence or absence of faith affects the virtue of the Sacrament, except to the recipient. Faith is the hand which is stretched forth to receive the inward grace of the Sacrament. If the hand of faith be not put forth the benefit is not received. The recipient is in no way partaker of Christ, even though he outwardly receive “the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.”
This Article is intended directly to oppose the Roman doctrine that the Sacraments have a mechanical effect, ex opere operato. This doctrine follows necessarily from the Roman doctrine of Transubstantiation, being one of the superstitions to which it has given rise. If the matter of bread and wine be actually and substantially changed into the very Flesh and Blood of Christ, whoever partakes of the Sacrament must thereby, however wicked his life or deficient his faith, be partaker of Christ. In that case, then, even those members of the Corinthian Church mentioned in 1 Cor. 11 whose profanation of the Sacrament St. Paul so emphatically condemns, would, notwithstanding their profanity, have been partakers of Christ. Whereas St. Paul traces to this profanity many of the spiritual and temporal calamities that had befallen them, including in some cases even death. Cf. 1 Cor. 11:27–30, “Whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself; and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation unto himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and many sleep.”
It should be added that though it is perilous for a person to come unworthily to Holy Communion, it is equally perilous to neglect Holy Communion.
To do this is (1) to transgress the plain command of Christ, “Do this in remembrance of me”; (2) voluntarily to reject a means of grace, by which additional power is given to resist sin; (3) willfully to place one’s self out of the pale of the Christian community of which this Sacrament is the pledge and bond of union; (4) to make light of the hope of the resurrection of the body, and the life eternal, of which this Sacrament is a surety. Compare the words of our Lord in John 6:53, 54, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Of Both Kinds.
The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord’s Sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.
De utraque specie.
Calix Domini laicis non est denegandus; utraque enim pars Dominici Sacramenti, ex Christi institutione et praecepto, omnibus Christianis ex aequo administrari debet.
Our Blessed Lord’s command to the Apostles at the institution of the Holy Eucharist was, “Drink ye all of this” (Matt. 26:27); and St. Mark (14:23) says, “They all drank of it” Our Lord also said,” Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” St. Paul, writing to all the Corinthians, says, “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do show the Lord’s death till he come;” and again, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.”
In spite of these plain directions the rule of the Roman Church is that none but the celebrating priest ever receives the chalice. Thus the laity are completely cut off from participation of the half of the rite.
The practice of half-communion is not only against Scripture, and in direct opposition to our Lord’s institution, but also contrary to the practice of the primitive Church. Indeed, the custom of withholding the cup from the laity was not attempted till the twelfth century, when the use of the chalice began to be forbidden by Bishops of the Roman Church under pretence of honouring the Sacrament, and to guard against irreverence and excess. This, however, is not to honour the Sacrament, but to do dishonour to our Lord by setting aside the terms of His institutions. “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). The practice of half-communion was first enforced by a decree of the Council of Constance, 1415.
The Romans defend the practice of half-communion by saying that Christ said not only “Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life,” but also “The bread that I will give is my flesh” (John 6:51), “He that eateth this bread shall live for ever” (John 6:58). But here the ordinary role should be adopted, that when there are several statements of Scripture regarding the same subject, the wider term includes the narrower, whilst the narrower does not exclude the wider. As to 1 Cor. 11:26, etc., they point out that St. Paul, in verse 27 uses the distinctive particle or: “Whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord unworthily shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord” (ος αν εσθίη τον άρτον η πίνη το ποτήριον); but this does not do away with the force of and (και) in verses 26, 28, and 29, nor in fact does the passage give the slightest support to the mutilation of the Sacrament. Taken as a whole, the passage is a strong condemnation of the Roman practice.
It is also urged that the command, “Drink ye all of this,” was addressed to the Apostles only as priests and is therefore not binding on the laity. But even priests themselves are excluded by the Roman usage, when not celebrating. To make the parallel complete, our Lord, as celebrant at the first institution, should have taken the chalice Himself and withheld it from the Apostles. (See “Plain Reasons,” etc., § 26–33.)
As against the general practice of the primitive Church, the Romans bring forward certain passages from early writers, which at the best show that in certain cases of necessity communion in one kind was considered lawful. These passages, however, afford no indication that it was thought right to withhold one element altogether, and anathematize, as the Roman Church does, those who affirm that both ought to be administered.
Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
The offering of Christ once made is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the Priests did offer Christ for the quick and the dead to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.
De unica Christi oblatione in cruce perfecta.
Oblatio Christi semel facta, perfecta est redemptio, propitiatio, et satisfacto pro omnibus peccatis totius mundi, tam originalibus quam actualibus. Neque praeter illam unicam est ulla alia pro peccatis expiatio. Unde missarum sacrificia, quibus vulgo dicebatur, sacerdotem offerre Christum in remissionem poenae, aut culpae, pro vivis et defunctis, blasphema figmenta sunt, et perniciosae imposturae.
This Article asserts the completeness and finality of the oblation of Christ upon the Cross, and accordingly condemns the Roman doctrine that the sacrifice of the Mass has a propitiatory value. The Catechism of the Council of Trent declares that the expiative worth of the sacrifice of the Cross is “daily renewed in the Eucharist.” The teaching of Holy Scripture is that “Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26); “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (verse 28); “By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14); “Where reemission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (verse 18); “Christ also suffered for sins once” (1 Pet. 3:18); and many other passages.
From this scriptural standpoint the Article proceeds to draw the irresistible inference that “the sacrifices and masses, in the which it was commonly said that the priest did offer Christ” (which expression must be explained in connection with the Roman doctrine of Transubstantiation) “for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits” (“blasphema figmenta et perniciosae imposturae”).
The reference is to the Roman practice of solitary Masses said by the priest, alone being present, for the living or the departed, purchased by the money of the wealthy. This practice is closely connected with the Roman doctrine of Purgatory, the sacrifices of Masses being held to be the chief means of relieving the souls from purgatorial fires. These, therefore, are aptly described as blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits, as derogating from the completeness of the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross, and as encouraging the wealthy to continue in the habit of sin, in the belief that they can buy themselves out of purgatory. Sin is thus made the luxury of the rich.
Is, then, the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to be called a sacrifice, or not?
This is a question that we need not be very particular to answer. So long as we have a right understanding of what a thing is, it is of comparatively little moment what it is called. In the highest sense there was one only true sacrifice ever offered, and one true propitiation for sins, viz. the sacrifice of our blessed Lord upon the Cross. It is this one sacrifice that was foreshadowed by and that alone gave efficacy to all the sacrifices of the Old Testament. It is this same sacrifice that is commemorated by and alone gives efficacy to every celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper under the Christian dispensation. That this Holy Sacrament is the way appointed by God for perpetuating before God and man the commemoration of His death, and that it is the highest form of approach to God which is permitted to man on earth, we may not doubt.
The whole matter is summed up in the Prayer of Consecration in our Communion Service:–
“Who made there (upon the Cross) by His one oblation of Himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in His holy gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that His precious death, until His coming again.”
Of the Marriage of Priests.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are not commanded by God’s Law either to vow the estate of single life or abstain from marriage. Therefore it is lawful also for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.
De conjugio Sacerdotum.
Episcopis, presbyteris, et diaconis nullo mandato divino praeceptum est, ut aut coelibatum voveant, aut a matrimonio abstineant. Licet igitur etiam illis, ut caeteris omnibus Christianis, ubi hoc ad pietatem magis facere judicaverint, pro suo arbitratu matrimonium contrahere.
The celibacy of the clergy was the subject of one of the reactionary “Six Articles” of 1539 (see Introduction) repealed in the first year of Edward VI (1547). This Article in its first paragraph, which stood alone in the Articles of 1552, asserts the liberty of the clergy in the matter of marriage at the time of their ordination. The latter paragraph, added in the reign of Elizabeth, declares their liberty after their ordination.
With regard to the testimony of Scripture there is no passage which forbids the marriage of the clergy. On the contrary, in the Epistle to the Hebrews (13:4) we read, “Marriage is honourable in all” (Greek, τίμιος ο γάμος εν πασι). And in 1 Tim 4:3, “The Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith ... forbidding to marry.” Moreover, St Paul, in his Epistles to Timothy and Titus, lays down rules respecting persons to be ordained, such as that “A bishop must be ... the husband of one wife, ... one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity” (1 Tim. 3:2–4). “Let the deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well” (verse 12). Titus is directed (1:5, 6) to “ordain elders in every city. ... If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.”
With regard to practice – not to mention that under the Jewish Law the priesthood were as a rule obliged to marry, the exercise of sacerdotal functions being vested in one family – St. Peter, we know for certain, was a married man (Matt. 8:14, etc.) while St Paul seems to assert the same of the majority of the Apostolic body: “Have we not right to lead about [Quoted from Revised Version. Greek, αδελφην γυναικα.] a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the Apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” (1 Cor. 9:4, 5). The four daughters of “Philip the Evangelist” are mentioned in Acts 21:9. Aquila was accompanied on his missionary journeys by his wife Priscilla (Acts 18:2).
The question of the celibacy of the clergy was discussed at the Council of Nicaea, A.D. 325, at which it was proposed that priests should not be permitted to marry. This was violently opposed by Paphnutius, an Egyptian Bishop, and ultimately it was decided that married laymen might be ordained, but that the clergy should not marry or remarry after ordination. The spread of monasticism and the reputation for superior holiness enjoyed by monks and hermits led to the spread of the principle of clerical celibacy, but it was not enforced until 1085 when Gregory VII declared it compulsory. The Church of Rome is forced to admit that the law of celibacy is not of Divine, but of ecclesiastical institution. A particular Church, as the Church of Rome, may no doubt enforce the practice within its own communion, but only as a matter of expediency not contrary to Holy Scripture. There may be circumstances under which it is expedient not to marry, as in days of expected persecution, like those referred to in 1 Cor. 7:26. St. Paul, however, is not here speaking of clerical celibacy, but of men and women in general, and he leaves the settlement of the question to the judgment of each particular individual. A matter of expediency is, however, liable to modification by proper authority in accordance with the requirements of altered times and circumstances; and it is in the highest degree questionable whether in view of the liberty allowed in Holy Scripture, and in the interests of religion and morality, the Roman Church is justified in enforcing the celibacy of the clergy. In any case this Article is perfectly justified in asserting that the celibacy of the clergy rests on no command of Holy Scripture.
Of excommunicate Persons, how they are to be avoided.
That person which by open denunciation of the Church is rightly cut off from the unity of the Church and excommunicated ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful as an Heathen and Publican until he be openly reconciled by penance and received into the Church by a Judge that hath authority thereunto.
De excommunicatis vitantlis.
Qui per publicam Ecclesiae denunciationem rite ab unitate Ecclesiae praecisus est, et excommunicatus, is ab universa fidelium multitudine (donec per poenitentiam publice reconciliatus fuerit arbitrio judicis competentis) habendus est tanquam ethnicus et publicanus.
In this Article no question is raised as to the right of the Church to excommunicate her members. That right is taken for granted, and is, in fact, indispensable to the well ordering of the Church as a society. The Mosaic law conferred the power of putting offending members “out of the synagogue” (see Exod. 12:19, John 9:34, etc.). Our Lord Himself enjoined His disciples that when a person obstinately refused to “hear the Church, he was to be “as a heathen and a publican,” i.e. excommunicated, or shut out from the Church’s fellowship and common worship. St. Paul (1 Cor. 5:5) directs the Corinthian Church “to deliver unto Satan” the incestuous person, i.e. to excommunicate him, the object being the amendment of the sinner, “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” The same Apostle lays down directions on this subject in his pastoral Epistles. Thus he charges Titus, “A man that is a heretic, after a first and second admonition reject” (Tit. 3:10). Compare also the case of Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom St. Paul “delivered unto Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:20). See also 1 Cor. 16:22, “If any man loveth not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha.”
In the early ages of the Church, excommunication was a prominent feature of Church discipline. Two degrees of excommunication were recognized (1) The lesser excommunication, cutting off from the participation of the Holy Communion. (2) The greater excommunication, or cutting off from all Church communion and privileges whatsoever.
Though the practice of excommunication has fallen from various reasons into disuse – chiefly owing to the abuse of it by the Popes – yet our Church recognizes the principle not only in this Article, but in the Canons, in the opening of the Commination Service, and in the Rubrics in the Communion Service and the Office for the Burial of the Dead. See what has been said with reference to “Penance,” on Art. XXV.
Of the Traditions of the Church.
It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word. Whosoever through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that other may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren. Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish ceremonies, or rites of the Church ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying.
De traditionibus Ecclesiasticis.
Traditiones atque caeremonias easdem, non omnino necessarium est esse ubique, aut prorsus consimiles. Nam ut variae semper fuerunt, et mutari possunt, pro regionum, temporum, et morum diversitate, modo nihil contra verbum Dei instituatur.
Traditiones, et caeremonias ecclesiasticas, quae cum verbo Dei non pugnant, et sunt auctoritate publica institutae atque probatae, quisquis privato consilio volens, et data opera, publice violaverit, is ut qui peccat in publicum ordinem Ecclesiae, quique laedit auctoritatem Magistratus, et qui infirmorum fratrum conscientias vulnerat, publice, ut caeteri timeant, arguendus est.
Quaelibet Ecclesia particularis, sive nationalis, auctoritatem habet instituendi, mutandi, aut abrogandi caeremonias, aut ritus ecclesiasticos, humana tantum auctoritate institutos, modo omnia ad aedificationem fiant.
The traditions of the Church referred to in this Article are not traditions of doctrine; these are in all places one and alike, and must be clearly provable by the Word of God (see on Art VI); but traditions of ceremony which affect the order of the Church, and the decent celebration of public worship. These latter, the Article declares, have been at all times divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word.
The general principle to be followed in such cases is the Apostolic principle, “Let all things be done unto edifying,” “Let everything be done decently and in order;” and it is a matter of reason that, owing to the diversities of circumstances, what is edifying in one country or at one time would not necessarily be edifying in another country or at another time.
But when these ceremonies, though of human appointment, have been authoritatively ordained or accepted by a particular Church, obedience to such ceremonies is not only included in the Apostle’s precept, “Obey them that have the role over you,” and again, “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers” (Rom. 13:1), but is necessary for the promotion of order and the avoidance of confusion in the Church.
Those, therefore, that break these traditions and ceremonies of the Church ought to be rebuked openly. St. Paul bids the Thessalonians not only, for their own part, to know them that laboured among them, and were over them in the Lord, but to “admonish the disorderly” (1 Thess. 5:14); and to Timothy he writes, “Them that sin rebuke before all that others also may fear” (1 Tim. 5:20).
Such a breaker of the Church’s traditions, in the first place, “offendeth against the common order of the Church” by setting up his private judgment against that of the Church, and so introducing a spirit of lawlessness, striking at the root of all Church government and discipline. If everybody were deliberately to follow his own judgment, nothing but confusion could result. Such a spirit, therefore, must be displeasing to God, who is “not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33).
Moreover, “he hurteth the authority of the magistrate,” in so far as every violation of lawful authority weakens the power of the magistrate, who is bound to protect the Church in the exercise and carrying out of her own laws, and in the maintenance of her own discipline.
Further, “he woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren,” by placing a stumbling block in their way, and unsettling them in the matter of their own obedience, and lessening their regard for lawfully constituted authority. St. Paul says (1 Cor. 8:12), “When ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.”
The last paragraph or the Article amounts to this – that in respect of matters of ceremony and order, neither expressly commanded nor forbidden in Holy Scripture, each particular Church may retain its own liberty of action. Church history shows that this liberty has always been freely exercised. There have been considerable differences of ritual in different Churches from the earliest times; a want of uniformity in the time of keeping Easter; in the attitude to be observed during prayer (standing or kneeling); in the method of administering Holy Baptism, whether by immersion, aspersion, or effusion, etc.
Of the Homilies.
The second Book of Homilies, the several titles whereof we have joined under this Article, doth contain a godly and wholesome Doctrine, and necessary for these times, as doth the former Book of Homilies which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth; and therefore we judge them to be read in Church by the ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the people.
Of the Names of the Homilies.
1. Of the right use of the Church.
2. Against peril of Idolatry.
3. Of repairing and keeping clean of Churches.
4. Of good Works; first, of Fasting.
5. Against Gluttony and Drunkenness.
6. Against Excess of Apparel.
7. Of Prayer.
8. Of the Place and Time of Prayer.
9. That common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known Tongue.
10. Of the reverent estimation of God’s Word.
11. Of Alms-doing.
12. Of the Nativity of Christ.
13. Of the Passion of Christ.
14. Of the Resurrection of Christ.
15. Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
16. Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
17. For the Rogation-days.
18. Of the state of Matrimony.
19. Of Repentance.
20. Against Idleness.
21. Against Rebellion.
Tomus secundus Homiliarum, quarum singulos titulos huic Articulo subjunximus, continet piam et salutarem doctrinam, et his temporibus necessariam, non minus quam prior Tomus Homiliarum, quae editae sunt tempore Edwardi sexti: Itaque eas in Ecclesiis per ministros diligenter, et clare, ut a populo intelligi possint, recitandas esse judicavimus.
A Homily means either (1) an address of sermon delivered to a collected multitude (όμιλος) or (2) a familiar or colloquial discourse (ομιλία) familiar intercourse.
The two Books of the Homilies are collections of treatises or sermons drawn up at the time of the Reformation in consequence of the prevailing corruptions and abuses, and of the violence and ignorance of man of the preachers. This ignorance was to a certain extend remedied by the appointment of licensed preachers at the same time that these two books were composed with a view to the more regular instruction of the people.
The former book of the Homilies was published in 1547, and is said to have been principally composed by Cranmer; the second book was published in 1560, under the superintendence of Jewel. The Homilies received the authority of Convocation, to which authority the expression, “we judge them to be read,” in the Article refers.
The Homilies were without doubt necessary and useful for the times in which they were set forth, when the need of a popular exposition of godly and wholesome doctrine was very great. The injunction to read them in the churches is directed against the opinion held by the Puritans that nothing but Scripture ought to be read there. Exposition of Scripture was, however, the common practice of the synagogue, and received the sanction of our Lord Himself (Luke 4:16–21).
Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.
The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops, and ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth, and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering: neither hath it anything that of itself is superstitious or ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to the Rites of that Book, since the second year of the aforenamed King Edward unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same Rites; we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.
De Episcoporum et Ministrorum consecratione.
Libellus de consecratione Archiepiscoporum, et Episcoporum, et de ordinatione Presbyterorum et Diaconorum editus nuper temporibus Edwardi VI et auctoritate Parliamenti illis ipsis temporibus confirmatus, omnia ad ejusmodi consecrationem et ordinationem necessaria continet, et nihil habet, quod ex se sit, aut superstitiosum, aut impium; itaque quicunque juxta ritus illius libri consecrati aut ordinati sunt, ab anno secundo praedicti regis Edwardi, usque ad hoc tempus, aut in posterum juxta eosdem ritus consecrabuntur, aut ordinabuntur, rite atque ordine, atque legitime statuimus esse et fore consecratos et ordinatos.
The reformed Ordinal was drawn up by a committee of “six Prelates and six other learned men of the realm,” appointed for this purpose by an Act of Parliament in the early part of 1550, as a companion to the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. The committee, whilst simplifying the ceremonial of ordination, substantially retained the “form and manner” of conferring Holy Orders that had been in use in the Western Church for many centuries.
In 1552 the Ordinal was added to the Revised Prayer Book. The ceremony, however, of delivering the chalice and paten with the bread was omitted in the Ordering of Priests. In 1661, after the words “Receive the Holy Ghost,” the words “for the office and work of a Priest,” etc., were added in the service for the Ordering of Priests, and the words “for the office and work of a Bishop,” etc., in the service for the Consecration of Bishops.
With regard to the Ordinal the Article declares two things: the first as against the Romans, that it contains all things necessary to right consecration and ordering; the second as against the extreme foreign Reformers, that it contains nothing that of itself is superstitious or ungodly. The Romans objected (1) to the minister of ordination on the ground that our Bishops had no spiritual jurisdiction, or mission, but were appointed by lay authority; (2) to the form of ordination as defective, in not mentioning expressly that power was given to consecrate the Eucharist, and in the omission of the porrection of the chalice and paten, the rite of unction, tile delivery of the pastoral ring, pastoral staff, etc. They also objected that in the reformed Ordinal, in the form of words accompanying the imposition of hands both upon Priests and Bishops no express mention was made of either office, so that the English Ordinal made no distinction between a Bishop and a Priest.
To these objections it may be replied that Bishops do not derive their spiritual authority from the Crown, which has no power to confer spiritual jurisdiction, but from all unbroken spiritual descent from our Lord and his Apostles. This jurisdiction is dependent on the civil power in obtaining temporal or civil effects, but is not derived from it. Moreover, the power of the Priest to consecrate the Eucharist is sufficiently set forth in the words which convey power to “preach and administer the Holy Sacraments,” and neither Scripture nor the Church has prescribed any particular form of Words. The only essentials of valid ordination are prayers or benedictions with the apostolic laying on of hands, which are found in our Ordinal. To the objection (obviated in 1661, to meet the cavils of the Presbyterians rather than the arguments of the Romans) that the English Ordinal of Edward VI made no express mention of Priest or Bishop in the form accompanying the imposition of hands, it may be answered that there is frequent mention of the two offices in the consecrating prayers which precede the imposition of hands, and in the charge accompanying the delivery of the Book; that whilst in the ordination of a Priest, all the Priests present, together with the Bishop, lay their hands upon his head, in the consecration of a Bishop the Bishops present join with the Archbishop in the same solemn rite; [See Procter “On the Book of Common Prayer,” Part II, chap. V., sect. 10.] and that the putting in of explanatory words to remove cavil is no admission that the Ordinal was defective before this alteration was made. It may further be pointed out that, in the Roman rites, the imposition of hands upon a Bishop is accompanied by the words “Receive the Holy Ghost” only.
Thus it may be concluded that the English Ordinal contains all things necessary to a right consecration and ordering.
The statement that the Ordinal contains “nothing that of itself is superstitious or ungodly” is directed against the Puritans, who objected to the words “Receive the Holy Ghost,” arguing that man cannot bestow God’s Spirit, and that it is profane and blasphemous to claim to do so.
It may be answered that in the English Ordinal man does not claim to give the Holy Ghost, except ministerially. The words used in our Ordinal are defended by Hooker and others on the ground that they are scriptural and appropriate and nearest to the institution of Christ. Just as in the consecration of the Eucharist the words of Christ Himself, “This is my body,” “This is my blood,” are used, so in the Ordinal the consecrating Bishop uses the words of Christ in John 20:21–23, to show that the act of consecration is God’s act, not his own. The passage from St. John represents Christ in His character of Head of His Church on earth. The effect of the gift conferred on the Apostles was first to fit them for the exercise of Holy Orders, and secondly to confer the power of transmission of Holy Orders. Christ’s promise to be with His Church unto the end of the world, which accompanied the commission of the Apostles (Matt. 28:19, 20), was an assurance of His presence in their ministerial acts, and in those of their successors. Thus Hooker·[“E. P. Book,” V. 77. 10.] says, “Whether we preach, baptize, communicate, condemn, give absolution, or whatsoever, as disposers of God’s mysteries, our words, judgments, acts, and deeds are not ours but the Holy Ghost’s.” The use, therefore, of our Lord’s words in our Ordinal, though not essential to the validity of ordination, is a perpetual testimony to the Church’s spiritual character and Apostolic mission.
On the power of the keys, see what has been said under Art. XXV, under the head of “Penance.”
Of the Civil Magistrates.
The Queen’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other her dominions, unto whom the chief government of all estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction.
Where we attribute to the Queen’s Majesty the chief government, by which titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended; we give not to our princes the ministering either of God’s Word, or of Sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen doth most plainly testify: But that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evildoers.
The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.
The laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offences.
It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons and serve in the wars.
De civilibus Magistratibus.
Regia Majestas in hoc Angliae regno, ac caeteris ejus dominiis, summam habet potestatem, ad quam omnium statuum hujus regni, sive illi ecclesiastici sint, sive civiles, in omnibus causis, suprema gubernatio pertinet, et nulli externae jurisdictioni est subjecta, nec esse debet.
Cum Regiae Majestati summam gubernationem tribuimus, quibus titulis intelligimus animos quorundam calumniatorum offendi, non damus Regibus nostris, aut verbi Dei, aut Sacramentorum administrationem, quod etiam Injunctiones ab Elizabetha Regina nostra, nuper editae, apertissime testantur: sed eam tantum praerogativam, quam in sacris Scripturis a Deo ipso, omnibus piis Principibus, videmus semper fuisse attributam: hoc est, ut omnes status atque ordines fidei suae a Deo commissos, sive illi ecclesiastici sint, sive civiles, in officio contineant, et contumaces as delinquentes gladio civili coerceant.
Romanus pontifex nullam habet jurisdictionem in hoc regno Angliae.
Leges regni possunt Christianos propter capitalia, et gravia crimina, morte punire.
Christianis licet, ex mandato magistratus, arma portare, et justa bella administrare.
This Article (1) asserts the supremacy of the King’s Majesty over all estates of the realm, as against any foreign claim to jurisdiction.
(2) Defines the nature and limits of the royal supremacy.
(3) Repudiates the jurisdiction of the Pope in the realm of England.
(4) Asserts the right of capital punishment.
(5) Declares it to be lawful for Christians to serve m wars.
In the Articles of 1552 the first paragraph ran, “The King of England is Supreme Head in earth, next under Christ, of the Church of England.” This language is nearly identical with that of the Act of Supremacy passed in 1534, in the reign of Henry VIII, Convocation having previously acknowledged Henry as “Protector and only Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy of England,” but with hesitation and with the important proviso, “so far as is permitted by the law of Christ.” (“Ecclesiae et Cleri Anglicani, cujus singularem protectorem et supremum Dominum, et quantum per Christi legem licet, etiam supremum caput ipsius majestatis recognoscimus.”)
The Acts of Henry VIII and Edward VI were repealed under Mary. Elizabeth’s first Act in coming to the throne was to restore to the Crown “the ancient jurisdiction over the state ecclesiastical and spiritual, abolishing all foreign power repugnant to the same.” The title, however, of “Head of the Church” was never revived, the title “Supreme Governor of the Church” being substituted for it, in order to silence the cavils of the “slanderous folk” (both Papists and Puritans) alluded to in this Article.
Further, the limits of the civil government are defined, as not extending to the performance of spiritual functions, or to the exercise of any prerogative other than that allowed to godly princes in Holy Scripture, by God Himself. That is, they are (1) to rule all states and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether ecclesiastical or temporal; (2) to restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evi1-doers.
The language of this Article appears to be most carefully framed so as to give no colour to Erastian opinions; that is, to the making the civil magistrate the source of spiritual as well as civil jurisdiction. In the Injunctions of Elizabeth to which the Article refers, the Queen’s power is said to be “the highest under God, to whom all men within the same realms and dominions by God’s law owe most loyalty and obedience.”
The Oath of the Queen’s Sovereignty is therefore rightly taken by all ecclesiastical ministers, and is the counterpart of the oath which is taken by the Sovereign, to “preserve to the Bishops and clergy, and to the Churches committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law shall appertain unto them.”·[See Procter “On the Book of Common Prayer.” pt. ii. 5–9.]
Thus the supremacy claimed for the Sovereign is not an arbitrary or unlimited supremacy. In the words of Bishop Harold Browne, “Everything in England is limited by law: and nothing more than the power of the Sovereign. In matters of State the power of the Crown is limited by the two houses of Parliament; in the affairs of the Church it is limited also by the two houses of Convocation. Legally and constitutionally, “the Sovereign, or the Sovereign’s government, can do nothing concerning the state of the Church, her doctrine and discipline, without first consulting the clergy in Convocation, and the laity in Parliament; so that when we acknowledge the supremacy of the Crown, we do not put our consciences under the arbitrary guidance of the Sovereign or the ministry; for we know that legally nothing can be imposed upon us but what has received the consent of our clergy and laity as represented respectively.” [Bishop Harold Browne, “On the Articles,” Art. XXXVII, p.800.]
The supremacy of the civil power in matters temporal is the foundation of all settled government; and the extension of this power, under due limits, to matters ecclesiastical is in accordance both with reason and the Scriptures both of the Old and New Testament. Aaron was subject to Moses (Exod. 32:22). Samuel declared to Saul that he was made the head of the tribes (Levi included). The high priest Abimelech appeared before Saul to answer certain charges on matters connected with the worship of God (1 Sam. 22:11). David distributed the priests into twenty-four courses, and made a variety of regulations with regard to the Temple services (1 Chron. 23). Solomon subsequently carried out his father’s instructions, and we read that “the priests and the Levites departed not from his commandment concerning any matter” (2 Chron. 8:15). Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah made many laws and gave many directions with regard to sacred matters, and Isaiah foretold of the Church of Christ that kings should be its nursing fathers and queens its nursing mothers (Isa. 49:23). In the New Testament our Lord lays down the precept that all alike are to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Luke 20:25). St. Paul bids every soul to be in subjection to the higher powers as ordained of God (Rom. 13:1); and St. Peter says, “Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Pet. 2:13, 14).
That kings are not to intrude upon the sacred offices of the Church we may gather from the punishment of Saul (1 Sam. 13:8–14), Uzziah (2 Chron. 26:16, etc.), and others. See under Art. XXII.
The non-jurisdiction of the Pope in this realm of England is virtually included in what the Article has already stated. The jurisdiction which belongs to the Queen’s Majesty, as a matter of course cannot belong to any other power. The Oath of the King’s Supremacy was substituted in Henry VIII’s reign for the Oath of Submission to the Pope which was imposed on Metropolitans in the eleventh century, and afterwards on all Bishops. [Palmer, “Orig. Lit.” ii. p. 290.]
This submission was claimed partly on the ground of the Pope being the heir to St. Peter, in virtue of our Lord’s words, “Thou art Peter,” etc. (Matt. 16:18); partly on the ground of his being Patriarch of the West, and partly on the score of the conversion of England by Augustine; and, in later times, on the ground of the cession of their rights by the Sovereigns of England.
In reply to the first claim, it is enough to urge that it has never been and can never be proved that St. Peter enjoyed any supremacy over his brother Apostles. We find St. James presiding over the Council of Jerusalem, at which St. Peter assisted (Acts 15). Neither, supposing St. Peter to have possessed such a supremacy, can it be shown that the Pope is the heir of. St. Peter; nor, admitting the Pope to be the heir of St. Peter, that this heritage would give him the jurisdiction claimed. On the contrary, St. Peter’s jurisdiction seems after a time to have been divinely restricted to the Circumcision, or Church of the Jews (Gal. 2:7, 8), and there is no record of any removal of this limitation. [See Littledale’s “Plain Reasons,” § 107.]
In reply to the second claim, it may be urged that, by the eighth Canon of the General Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431, it is declared that “No Bishop shall interfere in other provinces which have not been from the very first under himself and his predecessors. ... But if anyone have taken a province, or caused it to be subject to him through compulsion, he must restore it”; and that every Pope at his coronation professes himself bound by the decrees of this Council. [Ibid. § 108.]
To the claim from the conversion of England by Augustine, it may be answered that there was a flourishing British Church in England before the arrival of Augustine, and that after the landing of Augustine the British succession continued side by side with the Roman. Moreover, that the conversion of the northern and western parts of Britain was brought about by Scotch and Irish missionaries who received no mission from Rome for the purpose. Besides, admitting the conversion of England to be due to Rome, there is no precedent in early Church history for founding upon this any claim to permanent jurisdiction.
To the last argument, it may be replied that it is not in the power of the Sovereign to make over the liberties of the people or the Church to a foreign power, and that the Pope’s supremacy has never been accepted by any national synod of the English Church, and consequently that it was rightly repudiated, under Henry VIII, as a usurpation of authority.
The Article next asserts the lawfulness of capital punishment. The paragraph is directed against the mistaken view which considers capital punishment inconsistent with the charitable spirit of the gospel. The principle on which capital punishment rests is the divinely founded principle of Gen. 9:6, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed.” Violations of justice differing in kind and degree, it is only reasonable that penalties should differ also. The extreme violation of justice is murder, and the corresponding extreme is capital punishment, which is necessary for the protection of society. When St Paul designates the magistrate as the “bearer of the sword” (Rom. 13:4), he unquestionably supports the right of capital punishment. Compare also the language of the same Apostle before Festus, in Acts 25:11, “If I be an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die.
The last paragraph of the Article asserts the lawfulness of war, and is probably directed against the Anabaptists.
War is sometimes a necessary evil, to be entered upon for the averting of greater evils, and for the assertion of national independence against tyranny and aggression. The Jews were constantly engaged in war by God’s command. St. John Baptist did not tell the soldiers to quit their profession, but to do violence to no man, and to be content with their wages (Luke 3:14). Our Lord commended the faith of the Roman centurion (Matt. 8:10), and St. Peter was sent to baptize the centurion Cornelius (Acts 10:20), who had a “devout soldier ... that waited on him continually” (Acts 10:7).
Of Christian men’s Goods, which are not common.
The riches and goods of Christians are not common as touching the right, title, and possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.
De illicita bonorum communicatione.
Facultates et bona Christianorum non sunt communia, quoad jus et possessionem (ut quidam Anabaptistae falso jactant); debet tamen quisque de his quae possidet, pro facultatum ratione, pauperibus eleemosynas binigne distribuere.
This Article is directed against the Anabaptists, a sect that sprang up in Germany in the early part of the sixteenth century who, looking forward to an immediate Millennium, foretold the speedy extirpation of all the wicked and the beginning of a new and perfect life when all Christians would live peacefully together without laws or magistrates and would have all things in common with no distinctions of meum and tuum. They rejected infant Baptism, and rebaptized (whence their name) all whom they admitted into their sect. Like the Novatians, they denied the place of repentance to those that fell into sin after Baptism.
From Acts 2:44, 45, they argued that the goods of all Christians ought to be common.
But such community of goods as existed in the Apostles’ days was only possible when “all that believed were together.” Nor does it appear that this community was complete or compulsory. Compare St. Peters words to Ananias, “While it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?” (Acts 5:4): Mary, the mother of John Mark, had a house of her own at Jerusalem (Acts 12:12). In all probability this community of goods extended only to a common fund at the disposal of the Apostles, which was maintained and augmented by the voluntary sale of the whole or portion of the believers’ goods.
The notion of· a community of goods would render nugatory the sixth and eighth commandments, and the numerous exhortations of our Lord and His Apostles with regard to almsgiving. It is implied, moreover, in many passages that there would always be rich and poor Christians: 1 Tim. 6:17, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” James 2:15, 16; 1 John 3:17; etc.
For the duty of almsgiving, see especially our Lord’s words in Matt. 25:34, etc., in which He declares that deeds of mercy shown to the poor will be regarded as done unto Himself; and such passages in St. Paul’s Epistles as 2 Cor. 9:7, etc., “ Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver”; 1 Cor. 16:2, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”
The latter passage shows that the duty was to be constantly performed. We have here a strong argument for the weekly offertory.
Of a Christian man’s Oath.
As we confess that vain and rash Swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James his Apostle: So we judge, that Christian Religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the Magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the Prophet’s teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth.
Quemadmodum juramentum vanum et temerarium a Domino nostro Jesu Christo, et Apostolo ejus Jacobo, Christianis hominibus interdictum esse fatemur; ita Christianorum Religionem minime prohibere censemus, quin jubente magistratu in causa fidei et charitatis jurare liceat, modo id fiat juxta Prophetae doctrinam, in justitia, in judicio, et veritate.
The subject of this Article is the lawfulness of a Christian man’s oath on fitting occasions and under certain conditions. The abuse of an oath is incidentally condemned. The warrant of Scripture is brought forward both to justify the right oath and to condemn the profane oath.
“The Prophet’s teaching” referred to by the Article is to be found in Jer. 4:2, “And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness.”
An oath is a solemn appeal to God as a Witness and an Avenger. Such solemn appeals were employed from the earliest times. God Himself “sware unto Abraham” (Gen. 22:16); and, “since he could swear by none greater, he sware by himself” (Heb. 6:13). Abraham swears by God to deal kindly by Abimelech (Gen. 21:23, 24). So Isaac (Gen. 26:28, 51). Jacob swears to Laban (Gen. 31:53). Compare also Deut 6:13, “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.” See further, Lev. 5:1, “If a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing” (i.e. of “adjuration, by which he is required to declare the truth), “and is a witness whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.” Our Lord, when adjured by the High Priest in the name of the living God to declare whether He were the Christ, the Son of the living God, no longer held His peace (Matt. 26:63).
We find also solemn appeals to God in many passages of St. Paul’s Epistles: Rom. 1:9, “God is my witness ... that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request; 2 Cor. 11:31, “The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.” Compare also Heb. 6:16, “Men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.”
It is therefore abundantly clear from Holy Scripture that oaths on solemn occasions, and consequently judicial oaths, are not (as the Anabaptists formerly held, and Quakers now hold) contrary to the Word of God.
At the same time the Article condemns “profane and rash swearing,” as forbidden by our Lord Jesus Christ and James His Apostle. In our Lord’s time the Pharisees had multiplied oaths, which they used in ordinary conversation. Thus they swore by heaven, by earth, by Jerusalem, by the head, by the Temple, by the gold of the Temple, etc., and these oaths were considered as more or less binding, according to the forms used. It is with reference to this custom that our Lord says, “Swear not at all, ... but let your conversation be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay”; and St. James gives the same direction, “Above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation” (James 5:12).
It is not solemn and judicial swearing that is here forbidden, but light, frequent, and rash swearing in ordinary conversation. This amounts to a breach of the third commandment.
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